By choice or by chance: How the Internet is used to prepare for, manage, and share information about emergencies

Laurie Putnam


Access to reliable information is essential for emergency managers, whether they're facing tornados or terrorist attacks. How well information is managed before, during, and after a disaster can have a direct influence on how well the crisis is managed.

Today the Internet plays a recurring role in all phases of emergency information management. As a communication system and an information repository, a strategic tool and a populist medium, the Internet can be a powerful element in crisis situations. It has been readily used in recent crises and it will, no doubt, be used in the next emergency, by choice or by chance. The choice must be made to use it well.

This article explores the implications of the Internet for agencies that work to mitigate, prepare for, and respond to natural and human-made disasters. It also looks at implications of the Internet for members of the general public who are directly or indirectly affected by disasters.

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