Designing for the deluge: Understanding & supporting the distributed, collaborative work of crisis volunteers

Camille Cobb, Ted McCarthy, Annuska Perkins, Ankitha Bharadwaj, Jared Comis, Brian Do, Kate Starbird

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Social media are a potentially valuable source of situational awareness information during crisis events. Consistently, "digital volunteers" and others are coming together to filter and process this data into usable resources, often coordinating their work within distributed online groups. However, current tools and practices are frequently unable to keep up with the speed and volume of incoming data during large events. Through contextual interviews with emergency response professionals and digital volunteers, this research examines the ad hoc, collaborative practices that have emerged to help process this data and outlines strategies for supporting and leveraging these efforts in future designs. We argue for solutions that align with current group values, work practices, volunteer motivations, and organizational structures, but also allow these groups to increase the scale and efficiency of their operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCSCW 2014 - Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781450325400
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2014 - Baltimore, MD, United States
Duration: Feb 15 2014Feb 19 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW


Other17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBaltimore, MD


  • Civic participation
  • Crisis informatics
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Digital volunteers
  • Disaster response
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Social computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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