Role Playing Next Generation 9-1-1: Sensemaking with Social Media in Public-Safety Answering Points

AbstractFor over a decade, research has suggested that social media can enhance the situational awareness of emergency responders during a crisis. Rarely, however, do studies examine the sensemaking processes of emergency responders by which situational awareness is achieved. We examine sensemaking in a Public-Safety Answering Point (PSAP) through role plays with 9-1-1 telecommunicators that imagine how social media analysts can contribute to sensemaking processes among 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers, and emergency responders. These role plays suggest social media can address information gaps that emerge when 9-1-1 callers fail to provide critical information and vice versa, suggesting social media enhances situational awareness only when integrated into sensemaking processes that synthesize information across multiple, incomplete, but complementary data sources. This synthesis, however, requires cooperative information gathering and sharing among call takers, dispatchers, and social media analysts that PSAPs can coordinate using common interpretive frameworks and common information spaces.


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