Innovating with Social Media to Connect Communities: Learning from Disasters, Aiming for Resilience.

Dr. Theresa Bernardo from Michigan State University will be presenting. The U.S. was a leader in the development and deployment of 20th Century industrial technologies and organizational systems that provided unprecedented national prosperity. They are becoming inadequate, however, for 21st Century challenges, as evidenced by the costly failures now faced in housing, health care, defense, energy, finance and economic systems. We need to apply advances in the sciences of complexity, computing and communications to address health, humanitarian, energy, ecosystem, and disaster management. Innovation in the application of social media for serious purposes is being driven by urgent needs, such as emergency response. Its greatest utility, however, may prove to be through promoting healthy people, communities, environments and economies.

Dr. Theresa Bernardo will describe some of the innovations she encountered while working in global public health to stimulate discussion of parallels with extension efforts in the U.S. During the H1N1 Pandemic, web collaboration software was used for communication among Ministers of Health, epidemiologists and emergency responders throughout the hemisphere. Real time on-the-ground intelligence provided through social media proved to be invaluable in the response to the Haitian earthquake of January 2010. It was initially used to locate survivors in the rubble, but also played an important role in coordinating distribution of aid and in subsequent disease surveillance. The formation of “cloud communities” for response is now being applied to “building back better” to address longer term needs for clean water and sanitation, housing, shelter, education, employment and environmental sustainability.

Theresa M. Bernardo served as Manager of Knowledge Management and Communication for the Americas Region of the WHO (UN/WHO/PAHO) from 2009 – 2010. Previously she was Director of the Information Technology Center and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University. Before coming to MSU, Dr. Bernardo spent a decade working in international development, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Bernardo received her DVM from the University of Guelph, Canada and a Master’s of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. She has dedicated her career to the application of new technologies to improve global health and education.

Created by Lela Vandenberg

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