The sky’s the limit on emerging information-sharing technology for public information officers and others trying to get the word out in crisis or sunny day messaging. Dr. Brandon Greenberg, an emerging technology expert who also works for LMI, Logistics Management Institute, joined me on the PAST Fusion Cell News Line to talk about what he sees as the future for this type of technology. One of the most critical questions doesn’t pertain to the technology itself, but rather to how it is implemented: “I’m excited about a lot of the tech in the future but I’m also worried that we will implement this new technology in the same ways as before. You have to think about how to change your mindset and strategy to use it. If we don’t think differently there is a high potential that we will limit this technology.”
As an example, Dr. Greenberg points to contact tracing apps, which he believes are pushing the bounds of technology: “These apps require significant amounts of personal information to succeed; however, our current information privacy paradigm, policies and laws don’t match the capabilities of technology to effectively manage the privacy.” Dr. Greenberg says that privacy still has to be preserved while getting the data needed to support community response: “Could there be a world where public health agencies purchase licenses to the data but they will never know it was John Smith that tested positive for something? Perhaps they only need to know that user 5425 tested positive in a zip code.” Dr. Greenberg believes that the use of any emerging technology will need a higher level of innovation to solve privacy issues and support its use in the private, public or non-profit sectors.
And it will be important to figure out these questions, because Dr. Greenberg says new technologies can be an integral tool to support disaster management activities: “As disasters grow bigger and more complex, technology is needed to operate at a scale to really insure you are doing the best job possible. I see two lenses here. One is the technology used by our stakeholders outside of our core organization. They break down into the pubic we are serving as well as our operational partners. The organizational approach is how technology is used within the organization to support operations. The better we harness that information and use technology, the better we are to make informed decisions.”
Dr. Greenberg also points to the positives of the open data movement. People don’t just want to be told what to do by emergency managers or public health authorities says Dr. Greenberg: “They want to understand the data and be able to reason behind what you are thinking. I live in the Arlington, Virginia, area where they have posted a number of data dashboards to show real trends taking place that the entire public can consume. That really helps to contextualize the information that is being received.” Dr. Greenberg believes that technology can really expand how people communicate and celebrate their willingness to do what’s right for the country and for the world. As he explained to me, that positive push is already being done on Facebook with what’s called digital badges. A little icon pops up saying “I voted,” for example. Dr. Greenberg thinks you could also use it to create official, digital badges from a public health agency when it comes to being vaccinated for COVID or other diseases to help build a groundswell of support in communities to overcome possible anti-vaccine backlash.
If you’d like to listen to more of Dr. Greenberg’s Mp3 interview, and to read previous Flash Briefings, click on the full link below. You can also click here to access a link to Dr. Brandon Greenberg’s newsletter about disaster information sharing and technology, where you can subscribe and learn more about the latest in emerging technology.