Location based information in real time: Help or hindrance?

Looking at this Google Map created by Omar Chatriwala, a web journalist at Al Jazeera, and the plethora of location aware devices plus options to put up geo-referenced information and news on the web in real time, I wondered whether this was helpful or not in times of crisis?

Ushahidi’s leading the field in addressing this problem, and their application to the Knight News Challenge (disclaimer: I’m an Ashoka News and Knowledge Entrepreneur Fellow) is provocative reading in this regard, since it treats crowed sourced unfiltered information in real time as essentially helpful in understanding, assessing and reacting to a crisis. Could this work the other way I wonder, when information disseminated by individual for parochial reasons, or by groups for equally blinkered ends, may exacerbate the crisis?

For me, this is a problem that is both a technical issue (engineering / design / technology) as well as a sociological challenge (verifying information from untrusted / unknown sources as well as responding to actions generated on account of such information, a sort of domino effect of citizen to citizen, unmediated information dissemination).

What do you think?

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