How Social Media is Changing Disaster Response

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2076195,00.html

Social media is changing disaster response drastically and in new and innovative ways. For the first time the public has the ability to help each other right after a disaster, rather than relying on the government for all of their needs. This is a fundamental change seeing as the government often takes time to respond, and even then is much more concerned with the big picture of getting the disaster under control, rather than finding individual people. The internet tends to be much more stable than phones post-a disaster because phone lines are easily knocked out, and the flush of calls generally will clog the system and peoples calls and reception will be dropped. However, even if internet connection is minimal, it takes very little time to send a tweet, make a facebook status or a facebook page. People can post pictures or track names to see if their loved ones have been spotted, and that type of individual participation and attention has never been possible before.

In April (2011) the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented social media strategies into their emergency-management plans. An example is the Department of Homeland Security made an addition to their terrorism-advisory system that will send out alerts via social networks. The disaster this year have been an example of how much social media can help disaster relief, and it is only a short period of time until social strategies are a large part of relief for all large organizations.

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One response to “How Social Media is Changing Disaster Response

  • dreyes

    There was an article on The Atlantic a few weeks ago about some research that suggested that people have a tendency to band together in the aftermath of a disaster, and the resort to social media that happens makes me wonder if the two aren’t related. In that context, it’s conceivable people take to social media as a way to connect to each other after their lives have been disrupted, and maybe that’s part of why it’s become such an important factor, even beyond the purely functional aspects.

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