There are a couple of noteworthy technology items that could affect your emergency planning.
First, there’s a trend of younger people (teens) away from Facebook and towards Twitter. If the trend continues, it will be more important to have emergency messages going out on Twitter feeds than on Facebook pages. This is just a heads up that if faced with a decision on how to spend your Emergency Planning budget, Twitter looks like the mechanism that will be the better choice to reach the teen-age demographic. Please pass this along to your Schools Liaisons, Community Center Managers or others who will need to communicate with teens during a disaster. See the article below.
Second, there’s a trend of young people (twenty- to thirty-yr-olds) to move to Tumblr as their choice of blogging tools. It’s also a very good tool for sharing images which could be very useful for confirming/assessing damage and controlling rumors during a disaster. The demographic is one of the reasons Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo. This would be useful for CERT teams and others trained to perform Damage Assessment or Light Search and Rescue during an emergency. See the article below.
Third, an 18-yr-old from Saratoga, CA has won an award for developing a super-capacitor which is tech-speak for ‘battery’. The cool thing is that it charges in 20-30 seconds. What does that mean in terms of emergency management? It means that power for radios, cell phones, etc is becoming a non-issue (or less of an issue). The logical next step would be to put the technology to use in larger ‘charging stations’ which would allow people to charge up as they walk by. Connecting the dots even further…remember the article about the Serval Project where cell phones create a meshed communications network using wi-fi instead of cell towers (see http://www.servalproject.org/)? If we can keep the cell phones charged, we won’t need to depend on cell towers in emergencies (in densely populated areas anyway). Well, we can now keep the cell phones charged so going forward we may need less emphasis on backup communication methods/devices. Fewer different device types could mean we’ll see a savings in training, maintenance and repair costs.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The rate of change for technology is accelerating. The changes make it easier for us to execute, but in order to remain effective our emergency plans, the training of ourselves and our teams will have to keep up.