Citizen participation in Emergency Management

Technology-mediated participation in Emergency Management (EM) can identify how citizens contribute to disaster management. 

In ‘Coproduction as an Approach to Technology-Mediated Citizen Participation in Emergency Management’researchers Paloma Diaz, John M. Carroll and Ignacio Aedo illustrate uses of technology to integrate citizen skills and discuss social and mobile computing in participatory EM processes.

Published in Future Internet,  Diaz, Carroll and Aedo explore the role of technology in collaborations between EM organisations and communities. They further examine how digital technologies build meaningful partnerships through the alignment of safety protocols and community capabilities. Through case study analysis they demonstrate participatory design that brings emergency management professionals and decision-makers together to understand the constraints of technological solutions, citizen competencies and operation protocols.

In their survey, the authors explore how digital technologies create opportunities for leveraging citizen knowledge and social capital. Increased participation enables citizens as informants and responders, thus contributing to community resilience and security. Effective participation in this context would require collaboration between EM organisations and communities to build a meaningful partnership through the alignment of safety protocols and community capabilities.  

The research acknowledges that technologies for effective emergency management collaboration are socio-technical systems, built around structures and behaviours. Technology that connects communities to EM organisations should be informed by a close understanding of the specific skills that citizens bring to the table and how these capabilities are aligned to the needs of the EM organisations.

The authors explore a 2011 study conducted by the City of Richmond and Simon Fraser University, on the challenges  faced by EM professionals in British Columbia and Washington State in integrating social computing with their working protocols. They also examine a questionnaire-based 2013 study of technology-mediated participation involving Spanish emergency organisations in their research survey of co-production for community resilience. 

Photo: William Murphy/flickr/cc

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