Nobody could have predicted the huge success of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in how they have reshaped the world. In fact, it’s an understatement to say the internet and modern technology has changed the way we communicate—and quite drastically, too. News conferences have become a thing of the past, especially when it comes to emergency and disaster management. “For us from crisis communication and an emergency alert standpoint, it’s been the biggest game changer since the telephone, even more so than the Internet,” South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman Derrec Becker told Government Technology.
Using social media as a platform to spread awareness during emergencies and calamities has become the new norm. This means that emergency management officials no longer need to wait for traditional media to report news, as information can be posted on Twitter and Facebook. And social media is fast becoming the primary source of news for many people. In a post by Maryville University on their communications degree, they report that in 2016 there was already a 63% increase in global media traffic. This shows how rapidly the world is adopting mobile technology, which will only increase social media use, and change how people receive information.
The combination of artificial intelligence and social media has effectively enabled rapid disaster response. The well-rounded support of both these technologies has allowed emergency management officials not only to develop situational awareness, but to bridge the gap between communication and infrastructure failures, too. Medium notes that even relief efforts to those most prone, benefit from social media, as they are more likely to be alerted about natural disasters that are happening without a warning.
The emergence of social media in disaster management helped communities make sure that they have an effective communication plan during emergencies. On Tresit Group we talked about the importance of having more than one way to communicate, as this gives people more chances of dealing with a crisis or emergency effectively.
There’s no better example of this than the Facebook Safety Check, which has proven itself quite useful in times of emergencies. It was first launched in 2016 and was immediately tested that same year when a 29-year-old security guard killed more than 40 people and injured more than 50 in a mass shooting in a nightclub in Orlando. Worried family members and friends of people in the area clung to Facebook’s Safety Check to make sure the people they love were safe. David Moran who was a regular at the club explained that at first he could only vaguely recall what Safety Check was, but as more and more people marked themselves safe, he kept returning to the page. In the same article, Wired spoke with humanitarian crises and technology expert Patrick Meier. Meier said Safety Check serves a great purpose: to give people answers about the specific individuals they care about—and at a scale and speed that was never possible before.
Facebook’s crisis hub said they promise to make Safety Check bigger. The company aims to turn it into a “crisis hub” or a live and centralized repository of information about any given disaster. Friends and family will not only be able to check on their loved ones, but they will also be able to follow news and chatter, monitor live videos via Facebook Live from the scene, and even coordinate ways of responding. As the community learns to grow and as technology continues to evolve, disaster response will grow and evolve with it.
Article specially written for TresitGroup.Com
By: Evelyn Niamh