1.2 Thinking Outside the Box: How Crowd-Sourcing Weather Information Becomes an Important Emergency Communications Tool for your DMA

Wednesday, 10 June 2015: 1:45 PM
304 (Raleigh Convention Center)
Cheryl Nelson, StormPins, Smithfield, VA; and C. Weldon

During severe weather, many TV viewers turn to social media... they send their local TV station a Facebook message with a storm photo or a tweet with a damage report. However, reports on Twitter and Facebook easily get lost in the feeds. Additionally, numerous viewers still send emails to TV meteorologists with weather photos and reports. Can you honestly say that you open each email as it comes in during a severe weather event? As a broadcast meteorologist myself, I'll admit that I don't have time to sift through emails during active weather. Our jobs have become increasingly demanding over the years and the truth is that many of those emails may not get read until well after the severe weather event is over. Another problem with receiving storm reports via emails, Facebook and Twitter? Viewers often leave out an important piece of information- their exact location. Storm damage reports are crucial to every community- not only to TV meteorologists and the news media, but also the National Weather Service, emergency managers, utility companies, local authorities and every individual. Yet, aside from a couple reports on Twitter, how often do we wait for the LSRs to come out from the NWS to learn the true breadth of storm damage? In the interest of public safety, this information must be more easily accessible and disseminated to the public quickly. This is where crowd-sourcing apps comes in. How would you like to connect with the citizens in your DMA and see every storm report on an interactive map in real-time? No sifting through social media feeds or emails... you just look at a map and instantly have storm reports, photos and videos- otherwise known as "ground-truth." Crowd-sourcing solves the problems of any storm by adding police, fire and emergency managers to your social network. With the community working together, everyone can know the location of every flooded road, uprooted tree and downed power line in real time. Welcome to a powerful new social network for your city. -Cheryl Nelson, StormPins Chief Meteorologist & Chris Weldon, StormPins CEO

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