National Preparedness Month Blog: Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has published a report titled, Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management, which provides a summary of a roundtable discussion hosted by the organization last September. At this meeting, participants from around the world "discussed the opportunities, challenges, and gaps in the use of social media and other mass collaboration technologies for disaster management. The objectives were to build an interdisciplinary community of interest, to prioritize key issues for future research, and to identify possible solutions."

"The growing availability and use of social media and other mass collaboration technologies present new opportunities and challenges for disaster management. Platforms now exist that permit collection of data from broad constituencies and rapid communication with endangered communities, but this new interface between the informality of 'the crowd' and the formality of policy frameworks raises important questions. These questions pertain to best practices, ways to integrate crowdsourced data with more traditional sources of data, and the identification of tools and approaches that should be leveraged in particular contexts."

Five challenges in need of urgent attention were identified during the workshop:

  • Creating durable workflows to connect the information needs of on-the-ground responders, local and federal government decision-makers, and researchers in such a way that each group benefits from collaboration
  • Developing of methods and processes to quickly validate and verify crowdsourced data
  • Establishing a set of best practices for integrating crowdsourced and citizen-generated data with authoritative datasets, while also streamlining this integration
  • Deciding on the criteria for "good" policies and determining which policies need to be adapted or established
  • Determining where government agencies can effectively leverage social networking, crowdsourcing, and other innovations to enhance existing information or intelligence and improve decision-making

Article formerly posted at

Scroll to Top