Crowdsourcing Playbook and Activations for Emergency Management in Response to Hurricanes Maria, Florence, and Michael

Authors: Sophia B Liu*, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Emily Martuscello, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Cyberinfrastructure, Communication
Keywords: Crowdsourcing, volunteered geographic information VGI, crisis informatics, emergency response, emergency management, Maria, Florence, Michael, web mapping, GIS, emerging technologies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Cleveland 1, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


During the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assisted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in establishing a Crowdsourcing Unit activated for four hurricanes and one national level exercise. The Unit coordinates with Digital Volunteer Networks (DVNs) who help to collect, analyze, validate, and map social media and other crowdsourced data. The Unit also integrates data from crowdsourcing platforms developed by the tech sector. The USGS also supported FEMA in developing a Crowdsourcing Playbook for Emergency Management to provide FEMA, digital volunteers, and others in the emergency management community guidance on how to leverage crowdsourcing techniques during disasters. The playbook contains four parts: (1) data and information requirements for digital volunteers to better communicate situational awareness based on FEMA’s new Critical Community Lifeline construct, (2) processes and procedures for coordinating digital volunteer efforts, (3) a roster of DVNs and their key capabilities, and (4) a catalog of crowdsourcing and citizen science tools as well as collaboration platforms commonly-used by DVNs. During the 2018 Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael response efforts, USGS supported FEMA again to test the Crowdsourcing Playbook and operationalize the FEMA Crowdsourcing Unit at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC). At the NRCC, the Crowdsourcing Unit worked with the NRCC GIS Unit and used geospatial tools to create crowdsourced maps used by the NRCC staff, FEMA top level managers, and others in the emergency management community responding to these disasters to enhance situational awareness and operational decision making during the disaster response efforts.

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