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#Sandy – Did the 20 Million Plus Tweets Help or Hurt Emergency Managers?
When Superstorm Sandy hit the eastern seaboard earlier this month millions of people took to twitter to show their support, air grievances and ask for help. So with a record 20 million plus tweets alone on the #Sandy, how can emergency managers, the government and people in general do with all this data? Kate Starbird is an assistant professor at the University of Washington. She is an expert in social media. She told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that superstorm Sandy's twitter volume was huge. "The rate of adoption for twitter use has been so fast. But right now there is so much noise and only parts of it are useful. So emergency managers are cautious. They have been nervous to go all in on social media. Social media is going to make the work of emergency response more complex in some ways but you can't ignore it," said Starbird. Role of Big Data Development "There is a great role for developer to create new technology to deal with the data overload. There is also room for a whole new crop of researchers to parse through the data. One day this data could give emergency managers the situational awareness is real time,' said Starbird. Twitter's Use in #Sandy Highlighted by FC The Red Cross' Virtual Hugs: Wendy Harman is listening at scale. Using the high-end social media monitor Radian6, the American Red Cross's director of social strategy can detect who needs help where. Together with 23 staffers and volunteers, her team's collected more than 2.5 million conversations about Sandy, 4,500 of which have been tagged and sent out either to volunteers, either online or on the ground. This is how it works: If someone posts that they are trying to find shelter, reunite with their family, or a similar need, the post is routed automatically to on-the-ground disaster relief. While Harman says that the response may not be immediate--you can’t tweet “please bring me a sandwich, Red Cross” and have a vehicle come to you--the posts allow the engagement team to alert personnel to real needs. NYC Digital and Its Silicon Alley Allies: To NYC chief digital officer Rachel Haot, crisis management is about making sure the information people need is consistent, accurate, and easy to access. To do that, NYC digital draws on resourcing inside and outside of City Hall. Occupy Sandy Volunteers Via Twitter: Yoni Miller’s on the phone from St. Jacobi Church is Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He’s the social media coordinator for Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street that sprung up in the wake of the hurricane. The grassroots relief organization has gathered a lot of positive press in the past week for its efforts: New York detailed their medics' visits to Coney Island, Slate asked if it's outperforming the Red Cross, and The Daily News picked up on how they repurposed Amazon's wedding registry for hurricane victims.