Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Brooks Leads Emergency Management 2.0 Hearing

Jun 4, 2013
Press Release

To view the Congresswoman’s opening statement, click here. To watch her question the hearing’s witnesses, click here.

Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, led a hearing today titled “Emergency MGMT 2.0: How #SocialMedia & New Tech are Transforming Preparedness, Response, & Recovery #Disasters #Part1 #Privatesector.”

During her opening remarks Brooks said:

“In today’s technology driven world, social media and other types of new technology are becoming one of the primary ways we receive, process and relay information. Studies have shown that more than 60% of the people in the United States have at least one social media account, with many having multiple accounts to include Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and Pinterest boards. While social media originally started out as a way to share information among family and friends, it is evident that it has evolved to serve other functions, such as a prevalent source for news, advertising and entertainment.

But another evolving and very important role, and the subject of this hearing, is its use in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters. We have heard numerous stories from Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Bombings of how citizens used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to relay information to first responders, communicate with love ones, and request assistance when cell phone service was unavailable. According to the 2013 National Preparedness Report, which was released by FEMA last week, during Hurricane Sandy, 'users sent more than 20 million Sandy-related Twitter posts, or tweets, despite the loss of cellphone service during the peak of the storm.'

We have also seen how response organizations are using social media to quickly share public safety information and maintain direct communication with disaster survivors during and after an incident. The Center for Naval Analyses conducted a survey of the use of social media by emergency management agencies and found that 77 percent of survey respondents use social media, with 55 percent setting the goal of monitoring social media during an event.”

Testimony was provided by:

  • Mr. Matthew Stepka, Vice President, Google.org
  • Mr. Jason Payne, Philanthropy Engineering Team Lead, Palantir Technologies
  • Mr. Michael Beckerman, President and CEO, The Internet Association
  • Mr. Jorge L. Cardenas, Vice President, Asset Management and Centralized Services, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc.

“The management of ‘big data’ and the use of social media provide enormous opportunities for efficiencies in emergency management and I believe these companies and these organizations before us can make a difference in how this country is able to prepare for and respond to disasters,” Brooks explained. 

The Congresswoman participated in a Social Media and Emergency Management (SMEM) Twitter chat last Friday using the hashtag #SMEMChat. During the hearing, she asked questions on topics proposed by members of the SMEM online community.