Good Enough is Good Enough: Overcoming Disaster Response Organizations’ Slow Social Media Data Adoption
Organizations that respond to disasters hold unreasonable standards for data arising from technology-enabled citizen contributions. This has strong negative potential for the ability of these responding organizations to incorporate these data into appropriate decision points. We argue that the landscape of the use of social media data in crisis response is varied, with pockets of use and acceptance among organizations. In this paper we present findings from interviews conducted with representatives from large international disaster response organizations concerning their use of social media data in crisis response. We found that emergency responders already operate with less than reliable, or “good enough,” information in offline practice, and that social media data are useful to responders, but only in specific crisis situations. Also, responders do use social media, but only within their known community and extended network. This shows that trust first begins with people and not data. Lastly, we demonstrate the barriers used by responding organizations have gone beyond discussions of trustworthiness and data quality to that of more operational issues.