Crowdsourcing Rescue: Empowered civilian natural disaster response in the social media age




Humphrey, David

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When official first response systems are overwhelmed in the wake of natural disaster, civilians often take it upon themselves to do whatever they can to help those in need of rescue. This spontaneous volunteer response is not new to the world of natural disaster, but it is growing in new ways. In this thesis, I explore how certain technologies in the age of social media assist and empower civilians to respond to natural disasters in meaningful and effective ways. In this paper, I take a close look at the story of a technology created in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and how it was able to assist voluntary first responders in saving thousands of lives. The technologies and methods that have sprung from the spread of social media hold significant relevance for how we may address the subject of disaster rescue in the future.



Journalism., Social media., Disaster response.