Science and Technology Innovation Program


Webcast Day 2: Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management: A Policy Roundtable

September 14, 2012 // 9:30am3:00pm


In recognition of National Preparedness Month,

the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars presents:


Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management:

A Policy Roundtable


On behalf of the Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (The Wilson Center), the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, the International Association for Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, ESRI, TechChange, NetHope, and Project EPIC, we are honored to invite you to participate in a LIVE WEBCAST of the policy roundtable “Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management."

Live Webcast

Unfortunately, the workshop itself is now full, but we will be making the majority of the panel discussions available live over the web from this Wilson Center webpage on:

See the bottom of this page to download copies of the agenda and background materials.

Social Media Engagement

In addition, we had so much fun with TechChange helping us with our last event (Crowdsourcing and USAID Development Credit Loans) that we’ve asked them to facilitate the social media engagement for two keynote sessons:

To watch the live webcasts of these two keynotes and submit your comments and questions:

Event Speakers List: 
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Event Sessions: 


By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, new technologies and methods, like social media, crowdsourcing, and “crowd-mapping,” have the potential to transform disaster management. Yet many challenges – including characterization of reliability, guidelines for use, and demonstration of value – must be addressed before federal agencies can take full advantage of these approaches. Early uses of social media and crowdsourcing methods in disasters have raised a number of questions: Can citizens generate inputs to critical decisions faster and perhaps more accurately than traditional methods? What is the research telling us, and how are the best ideas being translated into practice? How have agencies successfully navigated potential roadblocks to the use of citizen-generated information, such as privacy and procurement or the Paperwork Reduction Act? When and how is it possible to innovate through open and participatory design with citizens and communities? This event will bring together members of the research, practitioner, policy, and “digital volunteer” communities to discuss the questions posed above and expand the list, as needed. The objectives are to build a community of interest, prioritize key issues, and identify possible solutions.

Keynote Discussion: Agency Vision and Decision-Maker Needs

Thursday, September 13th from 8:45 - 9:45 AM

Moderated by Alex Howard, Government 2.0 Washington Correspondent, O'Reilly Media

What information do local and federal government decision-makers need for disaster response and research? How do information needs differ for on-the-ground responders, back-office decision-makers, and those conducting research? Where might government agencies effectively leverage the power of social networking, crowdsourcing, and other innovations to augment existing information or intelligence and improve decision-making? What agency policies will need to be adapted or established? What is the strategic vision for the next 5-10 years?

Keynote: Connecting Grassroots to Government through Open Innovation

Friday, September 14th from 1:00pm-1:55pm US Eastern

Federal procurement rules are often oriented to controlling fair competition between entities that are unlikely to collaborate. Open innovation often takes the opposite approach: aggregating multiple tools into ecosystems that can solve complex problems through collaboration of organizations across specializations. When should agencies use competition or collaboration? What are the best methods and models for organizing collective work? From the perspective of leaders in government, what are the main challenges that need to be overcome if open innovation is to take a wider role in federal problem solving? This panel will assemble key players in the federal technology space and ask how to work towards open innovation for disaster response.

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Unless otherwise noted:

Meetings listed on this page are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required unless otherwise noted. All meetings take place at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Please see map and directions. Allow time for routine security procedures. A photo ID is required for entry.

To confirm time and place, contact Maria-Stella Gatzoulis on the day of the event: tel. (202) 691-4188. Check this page for the latest updates and notices.