Two lecturers in the US have suggested creating a network of Community Response Grids (CRG) in conjunction with the emergency services. Citizens could leave text, video and photos on the site of emergencies, natural disasters and terror attacks.
A pilot could start later this year based at the University of Maryland, driven by 40,000 students and staff. The idea of a nationwide network of 911.gov websites has been proposed by Maryland university lecturers Ben Shneiderman and Jennifer Preece in this month's edition of Science magazine.
"The 911 telephone system functions effectively when there are traffic accidents, health emergencies or small fires, but when large numbers of people are involved it does not handle the capacity," said Professor Shneiderman. He added: "The evolution of the internet and its maturity at this point and the great success of social networking sites like MySpace, Craig's List and Amber Alert, suggests there is an opportunity to do something for emergency response and recovery."
Although much has already been researched on disaster management, this project aims to capitalise on the power of distributed social networks, with the idea that people can work as social objects.