Non-profit social media expert Beth Kanter posted an interesting analysis of social media’s role in emergencies on her blog yesterday.
Indeed, the geo-platform Ushahidi, which allows users to crowdsource crisis information to be sent via mobile devices, assisted many survivors, aid workers, and organizations during the Haiti crisis (most would say it played a critical role). AWARE Forum did a spotlight on the crowdsourcing phenomenon back in June.
However, the question is whether or not social media is becoming a viable outlet for all sorts of other disasters, crises, or emergencies? Can the Ushahidi effect extend to our daily lives?
According to a new American Red Cross survey, 49 percent of web users would either “probably” or “definitely” use social media to “let loved ones know they are safe.” Also, 69 percent of web users expected emergency responders to be “monitoring social media sites” to send help; in fact, 74 percent expected help within an hour of their tweet or Facebook post.
This is a brand new phenomenon, and it’ll be interesting to see how emergency responders adapt within the next couple of years (especially in conjunction with traditional 9-1-1 calls). The rise of social media has given the general public a viable and extremely fast way of broadcasting their status—good or bad—to their family and friends, but there are few cases where such status updates have been used for such utilitarian purposes.
Twitter was originally started as a quick SMS service within small groups, to the great benefit of fire departments: now are they ready to listen outward?
For the original article on Beth’s blog, go here.
Let us know in the comments what you think: is social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) a viable option for emergencies updates and responses in your daily life?