Most emergency managers would agree that 2012 was a major year for both disasters and the continued impact of social media and other emerging technologies. To highlight the later, I collected the following top buzzwords for social media and emergency management for the last year. While these buzzwords don't necessarily represent new concepts or technologies, they are issues that seemed to have risen to the top of interest and important to the field of emergency management over the last year.
#SMEM-- This is a Twitter hashtag used by a growing number of emergency managers and first responders to share information and collectively address rising issues and concerns related to social media and disaster response. In a matter of a couple of years this collection of thoughts and thought leaders has become a go-to source for validation and verification of a variety of issues.
Crowdsourcing -- This is the concept that the collection of individuals, communities, interests, etc. can be a very powerful asset or enemy depending on the circumstances. Fairfax County (VA) became the first government organization (that I am aware of) to officially push out a Ushahidi crowdmap during the preparedness period before Superstorm Sandy.
Mobile Devices -- While cell phones have been available and utilized for many years, the rise of tablet computing joined cellular devices as a nearly ubiquitous option for people in all community and social sectors. Emergency managers have had to quickly change their approach in how they deliver information to their community by utilizing social media, mobile websites, or apps. For example, the American Red Cross rolled out a variety of emergency preparedness mobile apps to help people become more prepared for hurricanes, first aid, and other issues.
VOST -- The public use of social media to communicate during disasters has finally pushed emergency managers to identify alternative management strategies such as the Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST). The concept utilizes non-localized volunteers to search, filter, and aggregate disaster related information and report it back to the Emergency Operations Center. Teams are being deployed throughout the world due to its innovative and resource-efficient approach.
Instagram & Pinterest -- Social photo sharing sites played a huge role in 2012 disasters. Disasters were defined not by images captured my professional media, but rather through the mobile devices of those impacted or living through the event. At its peak, there were 10 photos posted to Instagram per second during Superstorm Sandy.
So there it is. What did I miss? Where am I wrong? I know for sure that 2013 will be an amazing year to watch to see how emergency management and disaster response is particularly changed through these systems.