Australia: Social media will soon play an official role in emergency response to natural disasters, according to Esri Australia Chief Technology Strategist Josh Venman. “Cutting-edge GIS technology that maps the location of social media posts has given crowdsourced information new credibility amongst emergency services organisations,” he said.
Venman added that many of the nation’s emergency services organisations were eager to fast-track their GIS technology infrastructure to include more direct integration with social media feeds before the next natural disaster strikes.
“We work with Australia’s largest emergency service organisations and departments, and they are taking social media very seriously as a new information source,” Venman said.
“Members of the community already use social media to upload and exchange enormous amounts of information during disasters – such as a photo of a bridge that is damaged, or video footage of flood waters rising. Advanced GIS technology provides context to this information by pinpointing its exact location and translating it into real time, accurate maps of a disaster as it unfolds,” he noted.
“By mapping tweets, Flickr photos and YouTube clips during a crisis, response personnel can gain a powerful new perspective of a situation to support decision-making – such as where resources are needed most and the safest and quickest deployment routes. I anticipate that within the next two years, most of Australia’s major emergency response organisations will be integrating social media with their GIS technology for this very reason,” he said.