On Line Disaster Response Community: People as Sensors of High Magnitude Disasters Using Internet GIS
The Indian Ocean tsunami (2004) and Hurricane Katrina (2005) reveal the coming of age of the on-line disaster response community. Due to the integration of key geospatial technologies (remote sensing - RS, geographic information systems - GIS, global positioning systems – GPS) and the Internet, on-line disaster response communities have grown. They include the traditional aspects of disaster preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation, and policy as facilitated by governmental agencies and relief response organizations. However, the contribution from the public via the Internet has changed significantly. The on-line disaster response community includes several key characteristics: the ability to donate money quickly and efficiently due to improved Internet security and reliable donation sites; a computer-savvy segment of the public that creates blogs, uploads pictures, and disseminates information – oftentimes faster than government agencies, and message boards to create interactive information exchange in seeking family members and identifying shelters. A critical and novel occurrence is the development of “people as sensors” - networks of government, NGOs, private companies, and the public - to build rapid response databases of the disaster area for various aspects of disaster relief and response using geospatial technologies. This paper examines these networks, their products, and their future potential.