Google’s Role during a Crisis

Posted by – May 6, 2012

The online publication Emergency Management hosted a webinar on the use of Google tools within emergency management, with speakers from Google and NOAA. The presentation stressed that despite temporary outages, the Internet is quite robust and available during disasters, and since Google’s familiarity and reliability make people look to Google for information during a crisis, it is the default platform for emergency management and information dissemination. A quick overview of this webinar:

  • 00:00 Introducing the “Whole Community” disaster response – Paul Wormell (Emergency Management)
  • 07:10 Google’s role in crisis response – Meryl Stone (Google).
  • 12:20 The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), a version of XML used by NOAA, USGS, and Google to format disaster messaging with tags defining the type and severity of an event – Michael Gerber (National Weather Service).
  • 24:40 USGS Earthquake data on using CAP- Meryl Stone
  • 29:16 Google’s role in Crisis Mapping – Sean Maday (Google).
  • 36:00 Introducing GoogleEarth Portable, which downloads a small region of GoogleEarth data for use offline – Sean Maday (Google).
  • 40:15 Key messages: Information providers should to publish their data in CAP; information providers should prepare their servers for high demand during crisis; agencies should create and share tools ahead of time; and please partner with Google Earth – Sean Maday.
  • 42:40 Closing – Paul Wormell, who notes that there isn’t time during a disaster to learn new software or create a new database, so preparedness and familiarity are important.
  • 45:00 Q&A: CrisisCamp; agencies using CAP, fusion tables and GoogleEarth Builder; use cases.

A website currently using CAP is Google Public Alerts, a GoogleMap mashup of NOAA, NWS, and USGS public alerts. Unlike most mashups, it includes hyperlinks that allow users to bore down for more information.