Video Citizen Science Safety Severe Weather Symposium Technology

The Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST) at the University at Albany

  • By AMS Staff
  • Jan 24, 2022

In 2019, the University at Albany launched the Virtual Operation Support Team (VOST), a student-led, faculty supervised initiative whereby undergraduate and graduate students were trained in crowdsourcing information from social media. As a part of their training, the interns learned about data scraping, misinformation and misinformation management, and the most effective ways to search for, summarize, and present trends in social media data. The VOST also served to support New York State's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) through the development of social media summaries and after-action reports. The program has had five cohorts of students that tracked sixteen incidents, complied over 70 social media reports, and engaged in one real-time activation. In this presentation, from the 2022 AMS Weather Band Community and Citizen Science Symposium, Dr. Amber Silver provides an overview of the University at Albany's VOST program, including the benefits to both students and the community at large. 

About Dr. Silver

Dr. Amber Silver is an Assistant Professor for the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany. She received her Ph.D. in Geography and Environmental Management from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Her primary research interests focus on how individuals and groups make decisions before, during, and after high-impact weather. More specifically, she is interested in the roles that public attention, risk perception, and communication play in protective action decision making during extreme events. Her most recent research has focused on the ways that new technologies, including social media, influence how individuals obtain, interpret, and respond to official and unofficial warning information.