"We live in disparate times. There seems to be an increase in the occurrence of natural disasters and acts of terrorism, creating an increased dependence on government services and emergency responders. By contrast, public safety budgets are shrinking and there are fewer resources to address this greater, widespread need. The answer may be what homeland security officials have yet to do--engage the public as a full partner. A relatively new concept has emerged in which social media or Web 2.0 tools can be utilized to facilitate the timely and accurate exchange of information and better engage the public. This thesis examines the current use of Web 2.0 technologies and crisis informatics and seeks to discover how existing social media can be used to engage the public in homeland security and emergency management. This thesis concludes that social media connects people and helps build communities. Unfortunately, public safety officials have not embraced Web 2.0 technologies and are missing a great opportunity to engage the public and harness its collective power. With virtually no capital investment, public safety agencies can create an innovative partnership by capitalizing on tools the public uses everyday."
Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: http://www.nps.edu/Library/index.aspx