Thank you for your support of DisasterMapping

As we approach 35000 visits to this blog and the single largest traffic day in the past two years with 1200+ unique visitors, I wanted to share some thoughts about the direction of the site. 

Originally when I started blogging , I was interested in looking at the application of geographic information systems and mapping to the disaster response and emergency management context.  Over time, I’ve learned a few key lessons about disaster communication that will guide where we go from here. Nature abhors a vacuum and good old fashioned journalism combined with critical thinking provides an opportunity to answer the questions that so many people are asking.

On peak days, most of the volume is driven to this site not by Twitter or Facebook but by everyday web searches like Google, Yahoo & Bing.  People are looking for answers to the events theyve seen unfold in the world around them.

Likewise when media (mainstream media or social media) or officials exaggerate or provide erroneous information people notice.  A great example of this is a tweet I just saw from Jason Prentice: “‘So, NBC Nightly News leads with Texas tornadoes “Out of Nowhere” while @CBSNews has accurate stat on 26 minute lead time. Who wins?'”

In the world disaster response people have long memories – people remember when you mess up. People remember when you didn’t do your homework.  People search out more trustworthy sources when you’ve you proven to be untrustworthy in the past.  And finally, when you can’t give people the answers they’re looking for they will go search for other sources even if that doesn’t paint a complete picture.

That brings me back to the purpose of the site. I share thoughts and ideas in order to stimulate discussion.  If that process helps people to engage with the world around them and help people to ask questions that help solve disaster management challenges then I’ve done my job to contribute to the dialogue.

Did you find an article interesting?  If so, I encourage you to share with people around you. Start talking about the ideas and thoughts – ask questions, because it is through that process that we will find the answers to many of our disaster management challenges.

With that said, I want to thank you again for your support and for taking time to read the articles on this site.


Power Outage Blacks Out Super Bowl Advertising??? Think again. “Not a Problem…”

Along with millions of others, you probably saw the power outage in the Super Bowl. During the stoppage in play, CBS did not air additional advertised commercials, but that didn’t stop advertisers from quick thinking / responding on their toes. The outage occurred at about 7:37 local time, and within 11 minutes @oreo posted one of the first major advertising tweets of the outage.  When all was said and done, more than 14,000 retweets had occurred and 4500+ people saved the tweet in their favorites.  The ad was simple and to the point, and connected with so many who were “left in the dark”.

Just take a look and decide for yourself – How effective is this $0.00 ad compared to the nearly $4 million for a 30 second broadcast advertisement in this year’s Big Game?

Award for advertiser thinking on their feet

Viral PSA “Dumb Ways To Die” Takes Youtube By Storm

Everyone gets tired of the typical Public Service Announcement (PSA) that you hear and immediately tune out on the radio or television.  However there is a PSA taking Australia, Youtube and the internet by storm!  This is a brilliant way to approach PSAs – from a cost perspective, the viral nature of the ad, the simplicity of the approach.  It’s definitely worth the time to watch and share!

So what is the title of this PSA??? Well it’s called “Dumb Ways to Die”…  You’ll have to watch the video below to see what it’s about!  But you’ll get to the end and be quite surprised at where the video is going, especially since it doesn’t even seem like a PSA!!  Or you can even download it from ITunes here, check out their website –, look at the hashtag on twitter #DumbWaysToDie.  The lyrics are available after the video and additional story links are below as well. Continue reading

Social Media – The New Professional Development

ShakeMap for the 1868 Hayward Earthquake

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been blogging and on Twitter for just over 6 months.  Wow, how does your world change quickly!!  Many people look at Social Media as a means for product development, marketing, receiving feedback, and exploring social relationships with people who are interested in your product.  Others see it as something completely social.  However in these past six months, I’ve been amazed at the conversations, connections, and doors that this media has opened up to me.

Social Media is simply the use of media (written and/or visual) to communicate thoughts and ideas through social interaction.  Within the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) community, there are a number of people all around the country that I now interact with on a regular basis.  The same is true about the Social Media for Emergency Management (#SMEM) community.  I’ve also had the incredible privilege to explore and learn more about the next frontier of connected data “BIG DATA” (#BigData), interact with incredible minds in the Data Visualization #DataViz community, and even build good working relationships with some of the best minds in many of these fields. Continue reading

Psychological First Aid – via idisaster 2.0 – “Information Aid”: As important to disaster survivors as food

Yet another great post from idisaster 2.0!  In today’s post from Kim Stephens, “Information Aid”: As important to disaster survivors as food, there were a number of great points made! One of my favorite terms in this post is the term “psychological first aid.”  On my blog you’ve seen several examples of storm rotation path maps that show expected areas where tornado damage would be more likely (examples March 2, 2012 Henryville, IN tornado and the May 24, 2011 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma).  These types of maps help to focus the response to the areas most impacted while communicating the regional impact and significance of the disaster.  Additionally, the overwhelming nature of thousands of social media posts, 911 calls and requests for assistance demand a way to filter the information not only by severity, but by helping identify even the areas that haven’t reported impacts yet. Continue reading

Mapping the Zombie Apocalypse

What would you do???

When we think of mapping using GIS for disasters and emergencies, we think of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like.  When we think of education, we often think of the same old off-the-shelf material from a book that we just take and share thinking we’re teaching.  However in both cases, we miss out on one of the joys of education.  Applying knowledge from one discipline or area to other areas of life…

Many of my followers on Twitter (Follow @emgis on Twitter) and this blog know of the CDC’s preparedness campaign from earlier this year on Zombie Preparedness – “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse“.  However most people who are familiar with the preparedness campaign are from the Social Media for Emergency Management (#SMEM hashtag on Twitter) community.  Most of them are not GIS people and haven’t seen how Geographic Information Systems (#GIS hashtag on Twitter) can improve our preparedness for Zombies (and for other disasters…)  Additionally, the Connected Principals Chat community (#cpchat hashtag on Twitter) could benefit from this post because it provides another way to engage students and parents on a number of levels.  You may not use zombies for important information to share, but please take a look at these examples and think of how you can apply this to your discipline and the content that you find important to share with others.

Enter the Zombie Apocalypse… Continue reading

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around…

Most people know the saying, “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around… does it make a sound?”  Is the same statement true about the weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, blizzards and other environmental hazards that we experience in the world around us?  Is the same true of our use of social media for these events?  What about you… do you think you have a handle on “big events” in the world around you and what social media is talking about this week?

Let’s try this and see…  What are the biggest events going on in the past few weeks that people are talking about? Continue reading