Blogging System Would Aid Communication During Disasters
Information technology experts from Indiana University (IU) are researching ways to improve communications during natural disasters, according to a university report.
Recently, a research team from the IU School of Informatics and the school’s Pervasive Technology Labs (PTL) created the Bloomington Emergency Collaborative Information System (BECIS), a project in which bloggers monitor communication sources using the Internet, television and two-way radio traffic, and then contact authorities.
“In the wake of recent disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, it was clear a lot of useful information was generated in blogs and other social computing sites, but there was no systematic way to use the information and help responders and others get a real sense of what was happening,” says David J. Wild, IU assistant professor of informatics. “Further, problems of reliability and trust hampered good use of this information.”
The BECIS team has unveiled its developing project to the Bloomington community, including representatives from the Monroe County Emergency Management, Monroe County Red Cross, Indiana Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, Monroe County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, Monroe County Search and Rescue, and the Monroe County Community Emergency Response Team.
The meeting resulted in several people in the community volunteering to become “trusted reporters” for the BECIS blogging system.
During an emergency, reporters will monitor one or more communications sources and feed pertinent information into the blog. The information then will be made immediately available to officials, emergency responders and volunteers.
“While it is only in the developmental stages, this project is harnessing local volunteer efforts, serving the community in which we live, and it provides a model, a new way to think about information flow in emergencies,” Wild says.
The IU scientists will soon meet with officials at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to discuss their project. For more information, visit becis.org.