The Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) recently released the results of its Third Annual Essay Contest. Participants were asked to answer the following question: "How can, or should, the United States make homeland security a more layered, networked, and resilient endeavor involving all citizens?"
The contest-winning essay, Twitter, Facebook, and Ten Red Balloons: Social Network Problem Solving and Homeland Security (6 page pdf), was submitted by Major Christopher Ford, a Judge Advocate with the U.S. Army. According to the CHDS director, the winning "essay touched on a topic of increasing relevance in homeland security. Emergency managers and first responders are beginning to realize the potential social media has in helping them meet their missions and are grappling with how to effectively apply this technology. The winning essay offered a glimpse into the possibilities Web 2.0 holds for homeland security use." The essay is well worth a read. It concludes that "with little funding, de minimis incentive, and a strong social cohesive element, individuals can (using social media) create efficient, layered, and accurate organizations that are able to accomplish complex objectives. Applying these systems
to homeland security is a natural development. "