Crowdsourcing to Improve Disaster Response: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is stretched thin, exhausted, and drained of resources from the massive response and recovery efforts for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria over the 2017 Hurricane Season, but has refused to break. The agency’s will and spirit has been a beacon of emergency management leadership for the entire nation in the face of a rampant 2017 Hurricane Season.
However, FEMA is not alone in its mission to respond and recover from Harvey, Irma, and Maria’s wrath. As we recommended in our previous blog, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has embraced crowdsourcing to fill gaps in first responders and provide mission critical support to FEMA and its state and local partners. Crowdsourcing has been a vital tool that has saved lives and property in the wake of these massive storms.
When the call for volunteers came, citizens responded in droves. Groups like the Cajun Navy and other local volunteer groups provided manpower, lifesaving supplies, and support when and where it was needed the most. In addition, crowdsourcing technology helped provide live flood mapping efforts and survivor tracking, and Twitter helped connect volunteers with those in need of help. These are excellent examples of the importance and potential that crowdsourcing technology provides.
DHS, FEMA, and the nation benefited greatly from crowdsourcing efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and would do well to adopt and modify these technologies for future use. Crowdsourcing technologies increase the Government’s reach and service to citizens across areas affected by disasters and hazards.
Crowdsourcing will play an important part in successful recovery efforts in the coming months and years in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Expanding its use for preparedness, response, and for long-term recovery keeps the ‘survivor’ in mind at all times. Crowdsourcing turns the Government’s most valuable asset and customer - its citizens, into citizen responders.
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