Harnessing the Crowdsourcing Power of Social Media for Disaster Relief

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Huiji Gao and Geoffrey Barbier, Arizona State University
Rebecca Goolsby, US Office of Naval Research

Although social media can positively impact disaster relief efforts, it does not provide an inherent coordination capability for easily coordinating and sharing information, resources, and plans among disparate relief organizations. Nevertheless, crowdsourcing applications based on social media applications such as Twitter and Ushahidi offer a powerful capability for collecting information from disaster scenes and visualizing data for relief decision making. This article briefly describes the advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourcing applications applied to disaster relief coordination. It also discusses several challenges that must be addressed to make crowdsourcing a useful tool that can effectively facilitate the relief progress in coordination, accuracy, and security.