This paper details the creation and use of a massive (over 32,000 messages) artificially constructed 'Twitter' microblog stream for a regional emergency preparedness functional exercise. By combining microblog conversion, manual production, and a control set, we created a web based information stream providing valid, misleading, and irrelevant information to public information officers (PIOs) representing hospitals, fire departments, the local Red Cross, and city and county government officials. PIOs searched, monitored, and (through conventional channels) verified potentially actionable information that could then be redistributed through a personalized screen name. Our case study of a key PIO reveals several capabilities that social media can support, including event detection, the distribution of information between functions within the emergency response community, and the distribution of messages to the public. We suggest that training as well as information filtering tools are necessary to realize the potential of social media in both emergencies and exercises.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/amit_sheth/527/