Disaster Forensics: Leveraging Crisis Information Systems for Social Science

Moss, M. & Townsend, A.
Proceedings of the Third International ISCRAM Conference edited by R Van De Walle and M Turroff. Newark Institute of Technology, May

This paper contributes to the literature on information systems in crisis management by providing an overview of
emerging technologies for sensing and recording sociological data about disasters. These technologies are transforming our capacity to gather data about what happens during disasters, and our ability to reconstruct the social dynamics of affected communities. Our approach takes a broad review of disaster research literature, current research efforts and new reports from recent disasters, especially Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean Tsunami. We forecast that sensor networks will revolutionize conceptual and empirical approaches to research in the social sciences, by providing unprecedented volumes of high-quality data on movements, communication and response activities by both formal and informal actors. We conclude with a set of recommendations to designers of crisis management information systems to design systems that can support social science research, and argue for the inclusion of post-disaster social research as a design consideration in such systems.

Wagner Faculty