Emergency & Crisis Technologies

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The last decade has seen dramatic growth of technologies that impact society, from data science and machine learning through to pervasive mobile devices, social media and drones. The same decade has also brought incredible challenges and threats to our well-being, including an increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters due to climate change, and increasing dependency on a fragile technology infrastructure. There is a huge and urgent need for new approaches to using technology to manage crises.

We are researching highly creative ways to transform and optimize the practice of emergency operations and crisis response through the newly-formed Crisis Technology Innovation Lab (CTIL). The CTIL will bring together maker culture, data science, cybersecurity and human computer interaction. We are re-imagining situational awareness, emergency protocols and resource planning in a world awash with data and technology. Recent projects include a nationally recognized collaboration with Bloomington Fire Department to explore innovative ways that data science, situational awareness and communications tools can be used to help realize a data-driven fire and emergency response capability (see news article about this here); and research into ways that volunteers can be mobilized in a crisis with the aid of modern communications technologies.

David teaches a companion undergraduate/graduate elective class in this area called Informatics in Disasters and Emergency Response and runs the AllHazards.Net and Resilient Bloomington websites. He is also active in Social Media in Emergency Response and Digital Volunteerism communities, and was part of early experiments in virtual operations support (see for example this CNN article).