Disaster Zone

Privacy, Technology and Emergency Management

Privacy is as important as security in our technological age.

by Eric Holdeman / September 10, 2018

People are more concerned with their privacy these days because of all the breaches that have occurred to government and private businesses databases. We too as emergency managers need to be concerned with privacy as we do our jobs to protect people, property and the environment.

See this Government Technology article, Privacy in the Balance, which is a discussion on the issues surrounding data, its uses and protecting it within a government setting. The featured person is Ginger Armbruster, the chief privacy officer for the city of Seattle. Earlier this year I had an opportunity to interact with her at a Drone Workshop put on by the Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR).

Seattle is a city with a population very interested in maintaining their privacy. I found Ginger to be a breath of fresh air when it comes to understanding the need to leverage the good things about technology while working to find ways to protect privacy. She is not a "just say no!" person. 

Within the realm of emergency management, the one technology that has become commonplace is alert and warning systems. With them, you have individuals opting to participate and receive warnings. That includes some personal information. For instance, their address, email, phone system/number, etc. As you move forward, there will be more technological innovations that become part and parcel of emergency management, drones for instance or the use of artificial intelligence or big data that is tapped by AI. 

Remember that security and privacy are closely aligned and must be paid attention to if you don't want to be a headline in the media that details how your system was used "inappropriately" to tell everyone to go see if their "refrigerator is running" or worse.