FEMA Think Tank

Use Social Media & Smartphones for Situational Awareness

Establishing resilient communities requires more engagement among all members of society. Emergency management and public safety agencies should facilitate and offer a forum for that information exchange before, during and after an emergency. PPD 8 calls for all members of the community (not just government employees) to be prepared and contribute to improving resiliency.


Digital mediums empower the public to provide instantaneous eye-witness reports when a situation is developing. Citizens are the true first responders to meta-disasters and we need to leverage their capabilities. Social media reports accumulate rapidly and can be overwhelming during a disaster. Emergency Managers need to influence technology development and help verify, organize and filter out the noise / clutter on social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. A more strategic approach and an interface between the public’s use of social media and government/public safety’s use of social media will yield improved situational awareness and actionable information for the whole community.



15 votes
30 up votes
15 down votes
Idea No. 130