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Five years after Katrina, government IT still feels storm’s fury

Hurricane Katrina was an eye opener for the abilities and faults of government IT. As the government itself was taking it's lashings from the American public, so too was government IT — wholly under prepared for coordinating the expansive requirements of response. Even now, government IT is involved with the changes and effort to expand the ability of the government during disaster relief operations. In fact, IT is integral in effectively making the changes that were identified as critical during Hurricane Katrina. It's not an easy task, as the very landscape of how to monitor and provide help to those who need it most has changed. As David Maxwell, director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency management explains, people are looking less to the telephone and more to the smart phone: The 56-year-old Maxwell is also president of the National Emergency Management Association, the professional association for state-level emergency management directors. He said one of the biggest IT-related changes in emergency response since 2005 is the growing use of social media. There's also empirical evidence that social media is changing emergency response. Many people now use Facebook and Twitter to report emergencies or call for help, and they expect first responders to monitor those sites, according to the results of an online survey conducted by the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has also started teaching seminars about effectively using social media to coordinate recovery efforts — and all of this depends very much on having a working plan for IT to help first responders, government help, and communities prepared for disasters.

 

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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