The 21st Century Project


Disaster Informatics

Austin's experience dealing with evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita led to the development of a new field of activity: "disaster informatics," or the use of information technology to prepare for and cope with a disaster.   Gary Chapmanis a member of the City of Austin's Technology Response Team, which is exploring innovative ways to use information technology to engage Central Texas residents in preparing for a natural or man-made disaster.

There have been different web technologies that have been used in this area including Wiki pages , RRS feeds as well as a mashup (or combination) of these technologies. Some projects have put these technologies to use. For example, after Hurracane Katrina a group of volunteers created the PeopleFinder project where they scrapped thousands of web sites and compiled a database of misplaced people. Sahana was another project that was formed after the incidents of the Tsunami in South Asia.

The National Academy of Sciences conducted a report on Improving Disaster Management: The Role of IT in Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.This report makes several recommendation such as de adoption of Open Source and Open Standards for disaster management. For example, it advocates the adoption of the Common Alerting Protocol .

The main objective of our work is to investigate new Internet collaboration tools, technologies and platforms by which grassroots efforts of citizens can be effectively used and channeled.


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