Tropical Storm Debbie and the FSU EM&HS Program’s Disaster Incident Research Team (DIRT)
Tropical storm Debbie is a low level event compared to major storms like the ones that tore through Joplin MO, but Debbie has provided the perfect training ground to beta test some of the EM&HS programs research on disasters and social media. Florida is the perfect proving ground to examine the publics use of social media systems during a disaster, and a new program the Disaster Incident Research Team (DIRT) has been formed within the Emergency Management & Homeland Security program to capture real time data. Led by Deputy Director David Merrick, the Disaster Incident Research Team is capturing the social media response to Debbie by evaluating online feeds found in Facebook, Twitter, various state agencies, and online news media sources.
“Tropical Storm Debbie is the perfect low impact event to work the kinks out of the DIRT program”, said Mr. Merrick. “We’ve already found some weaknesses in the aggregating systems we are using, and may end up building a custom capturing platform.” The EM&HS program hopes to eventually follow up their online research with in-field research gathering, which would also be conducted with DIRT members. Enthusiastically supported by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, DIRT members hope to eventually enter impact areas and conduct on the ground assessments.