Splunk4Good presents at the White House! #FEMAThinkTank wrapup

This post is part 2 of Splunk4Good goes to Washington, read part 1 here.

On February 6 Splunk4Good presented at the White House as part of the FEMA Think Tank on Innovations in Emergency Management. There were >80 people in the room and the call open to the nation had >800 participants. The in room crowd included several high ranking officials: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Deputy Administrator of FEMA Rich Serino, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy Chuck Donnell, as well as the brightest minds in Emergency Management from Nonprofit, Private and Public Sectors.  Click Agenda pic on the right to see all names. To listen to a recording or read the transcipt click here.

Splunk4Good presented our Hurricane Sandy Social Media for Emergency management public big data project. The Sandy project provided unique insight into how social media can be used in emergency prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. For this project we took >7M tweets related to Sandy from 10/22/12-10/31/12 and provided analysis that showed:

1) How fear changed as Hurricane Sandy approached
2) How many people asked for help over time and what the sentiment analysis showed
3) Critical Supplies over time and what the sentiment analysis showed
4) Rate of people evacuating the area over time.

Although Splunk4Good’s Sandy analysis was done after the actual event, our goal was to communicate the power of using Splunk to analyze a variety of data sources to provide real-time operational insights. I knew this goal was accomplished when a senior FEMA leader who had not seen the project prior to it being presented at the White House told me that during Sandy he deployed 1M gallons of water in a day and would have loved to have had Splunk to make a more informed decision.

FEMA was indeed using social media during Sandy, but mostly for external communications and to control the rumor mill. They were not using it for real-time analysis that improved operational decision making.

As a thank you for our work as a member of the FEMA Innovation Team, Michael Wilde and I were given certificates of appreciation from FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino.

Splunk4Good was only one presenter amongst many. I learned much and made many new friends. Here are my top 3 takeaways:

  1. Splunk has no limits! Many other exciting innovations presented that day could have also used Splunk to substantially enhance overall operational intelligence. Ex: Splunk the iPads volunteers used going door to door to help people register for FEMA assistance! Splunk the Mobile Communications networks for improved uptime and security!
  2. Innovation is strongly helped by combining forces and focusing on what works! Willow from GWOB.org said it best when she told the room “FEMA needs to be more Kickstarter (crowd sourced resources) and less Music Industry (outdated biz model, hated).” She then blushed thoroughly and received a huge round of applause. Willow is right! Even outside of FEMA this lesson applies more broadly, we all need to assess how we can combine Nonprofit, Public and Private sectors to achieve the most awesome outcome.
  3. Government folks can bring the lulz! Rich Serino is a deeply funny guy and Janet Napolitano chair danced to hold music.

Unfortunately no pics of that, but I will leave you with one of Willow and I staring nobly off into the distance. Imagine the two of us plotting awesome, innovative collaborations in the open government, open data space.

Check out the Sandy Projects and others, live at http://splunk4good.com/#liveprojects. Keep up to date on all Splunk4Good’s projects by following us on Twitter: @Splunk4Good @xty.

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