Crisis call for for Web 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies.have obtained new status as a linchpin in disaster magnagement folowing the 2011 Queensland flood and cyclone emergencies.

During the floods, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) used social media tools Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get its message to the public directly.

After a large-scale disaster, Facebook can play an important role in communications efforts and emergency response.

Western Downs Regional Council does not have a Facebook page, but is now investigating setting one up in the wake of the flood events.

Council staff found Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube and Facebook were useful tools to keep up with the impact of the floods.

‘“The importance of Web 2.0 technologies was highlighted during the disaster,” said Greet, “ It provides a very fast way of sending and receiving information, although he reliability of the information is questionable at times.”

The floods put a big focus on Web 2.0 at Toowoomba City Council, according to IT manager Paul Fendley.

“We had been doing a minimum of activity with Twitter and Facebook prior to this, but during the event, access of these services by the public skyrocketed. Especially when our Disaster Web site went down for a few hours, we were able to get staff to access our Facebook page via other Internet accounts and provide updates allowing us to maintain a presence.

“One of the real learnings for us is in a disaster scenario it is one of the real value propositions of this collaborative Web stuff, and it also applies in the other direction. Particularly in the days after the floods, we got a lot of intelligence from the community via Facebook, either through our page or the various pages that popped up with people showing photographs and video that were taken during the midst of the event.

“There is a really rich source of data out there now that we could have never got by putting people on the ground. We don’t have the resources to put people on bridges in the middle of storms and take photographs to show where the flooding is. But Facebook lets us know what really happened on a particular bridge or road; what was the level of inundation and what was the damage that occurred at specific times.

“We are still working through how to use that as a resource. At the moment to respect intellectual property we are putting links out to Facebook imagery from our GIS where it’s relevant. We have assembled a couple of key spatial layers around infrastructure damage and road closures as were able to bring in aerial photos as well as photos taken by our own staff or useful photography or YouTube video that we were able to find from others in the public domain. So our professional staff were able to see from the comfort of their office some very rich information on remote sites, for instance where a bridge or a road had been damaged.”