Disaster Management Publications
Four essays present perspectives on the ideas behind smart cities from New York, Ahmedabad, São Paulo, and Beijing.
The growing use of social media and other mass collaboration technologies is opening up new opportunities in disaster management efforts, but is also creating new challenges for policymakers looking to incorporate these tools into existing frameworks. The Commons Lab, part of the Science & Technology Innovation Program, hosted a September 2012 workshop bringing together emergency responders, crisis mappers, researchers, and software programmers to discuss issues surrounding the adoption of these new technologies. This report discusses the key findings, policy suggestions, and success stories that emerged during the workshop.
Asian nations have found it difficult to respond effectively to new transnational security challenges. Resources and technical capacity are scarce, as are cooperation and coordination within and between governments, the private sector, and civil society. New Security Challenges in Asia shows how these threats are less susceptible to traditional diplomacy or military resolution and recommends ways the United States can help Asian nations address them.
This white paper describes a groundbreaking system of citizen science projects by the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientific institutions to detect and monitor earthquakes and engage the public in scientific research about seismic events. These approaches seek to provide a more robust earthquake alert network and generate more real-time motion data. The paper also looks at how future efforts could be improved. Successful crowdsourcing projects at the federal level must navigate a web of practical, legal and policy considerations. This paper identifies some of these hurdles and provides lessons learned so that others may apply them to their unique missions.
When a natural disaster occurs, government agencies, humanitarian organizations, private companies, volunteers, and others collect information about missing persons to aid the search effort. Often this processing of information about missing persons exacerbates the complexities and uncertainties of privacy rules. This report offers a roadmap to the legal and policy issues surrounding privacy and missing persons following natural disasters.
The Fukushima nuclear meltdown has forced Japan to reconsider its energy policy, and as the country continues to grapple with the aftermath of the crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake, public opinion remains deeply divided about the country’s future energy policy including nuclear power. The United States, too, is facing its own challenges, as a bonanza in natural gas within its borders in recent years is redefining the meaning of energy independence. How both countries are looking beyond petroleum to meet their respective energy needs, and prospects for alternative energy sources including nuclear power, were the topics of discussion at the latest Japan-U.S. Joint Public Policy Forum, held in Tokyo on October 31, 2012.
Social media is responsible for much positive change in the world. But these new tools can be used by bad actors to foment strife and undermine stability, as seen during violent incidents in the Assam state of northeast India in July 2012. Cybersecurity efforts must take into account the growing potential for cyber-attack using social media, where hoax messages are incorporated into a stream of otherwise legitimate messages, and understand how quickly mobile apps and text services can disseminate false information.
By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, social media have the power to revolutionize emergency management. Yet, many challenges—including guidelines for use by response agencies, demonstration of value, and characterization of reliability—must be addressed if the potential of social media is to be fully realized in emergency response and relief efforts in the United States.
Major emergencies and crises can overwhelm local resources. In the last several years, self-organized digital volunteers have begun leveraging the power of social media and “crowd-mapping” for collaborative crisis response. Rather than mobilizing a physical response, these digital volunteer groups have responded virtually by creating software applications, monitoring social networks, aggregating data, and creating “crowdsourced” maps to assist both survivors and the formal response community. These virtual responses can subject digital volunteers to tort liability. This report evaluates the precise contours of potential liability for digital volunteers.
Read the summary of the most recent Japan-U.S. Joint Public Policy Forum. The forum was held in Tokyo to discuss the U.S.-Japan bilateral alliance after the March, 2011, earthquake and tsunami related disasters in Japan, and was co-sponsored by the Wilson Center and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.