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TV news highlights Shneiderman's 911.gov idea


WUSA-TV (Washington) recently highlighted the concept of 911.gov in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre. The web site concept was developed by ISR-affiliated Professor Ben Shneiderman (CS/UMIACS), and Jennifer Preece, professor and dean of the College of Information Studies. The idea behind the site is to provide better networking in a time of disaster through Shneiderman's "Community Response Grids," based on the concept of social networking.

Shneiderman and Preece's research suggests that community members, who would register in advance, could use Internet-based computers, mobile devices and cell phones to give and get text messsages, photos or videos. The site would support coordination as emerging software tools could enable agencies to integrate reports and promptly recognize patterns. Civic leaders could disseminate information on a street-by-street basis. CRGs would be most useful in catastrophes that do not destroy infrastructure, such as avain flu, chemical and biological attacks, and temperature extremes.

Colleges are looking for quick ways to get emergency information to their communities, the television station noted: "It didn't take long for students at Virginia Tech to start using technology as a way to share information. They used their cell phones to capture the horrifying minutes. They posted the images on their medium of choice: the social networking sites of MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.

Shneiderman told the TV people, "We know the large majority of first responders are citizens, people, close by and we need to create a training program to make them responsible responders, and to engage them in a practical way."

| Read ISR's original story about 911.gov from February 2007. |

May 3, 2007


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