Social and mobile computing open up new possibilities for integrating citizens' information, knowledge, and social capital in emergency management (EM). This participation can improve the capacity of local agencies to respond to unexpected events by involving citizens not only as first line informants, but also as first responders. This participation could contribute to build resilient communities aware of the risks they are threatened by and able to mobilize their social capital to cope with them and, in turn, decrease the impact of threats and hazards. However for this participation to be possible organizations in charge of EM need to realize that involving citizens does not interfere with their protocols and that citizens are a valuable asset that can contribute to the EM process with specific skills and capabilities. In this paper we discuss the design challenges of using social and mobile computing to move to a more participatory EM process that starts by empowering both citizens and organizations in a coproduction service envisioned as a partnership effort. As an example, we describe a case study of a participatory design approach that involved professional EM workers and decision makers in an effort to understand the challenges of using technology-based solutions to integrate citizen skills and capabilities in their operation protocols. The case study made it possible to identify specific roles that citizens might play in a crisis or disaster and to envision scenarios were technologies could be used to integrate their skills into the EM process. In this way the paper contributes to the roles and the scenarios of theory-building about coproduction in EM services.
citizen participation; coproduction; emergency management; empowering technologies; social and mobile computing