The day after the typhoon, James David went out on the roads in search of a telephone booth that was still functioning. But all the telephone connections and electricity lines had snapped. So, it was impossible for him to make a call and let his family abroad know that he was safe. This is when he heard that hundreds of people were heading to the main city mall to access free WiFi. He went there and used Facebook to let his friends and family know that he was okay — still alive.
So, this is one way social media works these days. Social media can help to generate business leads for you and it can also be an excellent platform for performing social activities. But it can also be quite effective for disaster relief. For example, when a place is hit by a natural disaster, social media disaster relief actually plays a major role in helping.
How Does Social Media Help During Disaster Relief?
The moment a disaster hits, social media becomes very active. People share the news with others and it spreads like wildfire. Soon, social media sites like Facebook and others get flooded with the pictures of the disaster. They share the kind of help they would need. So, in the aftermath of different disasters, social media plays a major role in knowing the conditions of the victims. But is that all?
Not exactly. Here’s a quick look at how social media can improve the process of providing disaster relief.
According to experts, social media is going to be an indispensable tool for providing disaster relief in the near future. In fact, experts also opine that social media should be included in the emergency preparedness for disasters in the future. And of course, it can come in handy in the relief operations after the incident. But how?
Several social media platforms allow the creation of groups, which you can use for discussions on social media disaster relief activities.
Almost everybody needs to know a few basics about disaster relief, as it can come in handy at a time of need. So, discuss about the best steps for using social media for disaster relief. Answer queries of people who are interested in helping. Inspire people to form volunteer groups for disaster relief. They might build a fund and send in monetary and material aids to disaster-hit areas.
Here’s an example. Just after the Sichuan earthquake on April 20, 2013, a social-media based volunteer group delivered 1,250 blankets, 100 tarps and as many as 498 tents. It was an amazing feat for an activity started with social media.
Crowdsourcing Information Helps Humanitarian Groups
The world of technology has moved forward in great strides over the last few decades. So, now the moment people know about a natural disaster, they don’t take much time to find details about it. Satellite imagery, data, and other information help them learn about an incident quickly. They share this information with humanitarian groups who make use of the information to arrange for disaster relief. Sharing such data used to be messy and difficult a few years back. But today information on any disaster can be shared easily and utilized by any number of organizations offering disaster relief.
A case in point is the way humanitarian organizations sent aids during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013.
What’s the Situation?
You know a place has been hit hard by a natural disaster. You want to go there to assist with relief efforts. But you know nothing about the conditions at the disaster site. What condition are the victims in? What do they need most?
Enter a victim of the disaster who has with them a smartphone or access to the Internet. They tweet or share on Facebook and other social media platforms the condition at the moment. They snap pictures of the disaster and post them on social media. This is the perfect way for you to understand the condition of people at the site of the disaster so you can take the necessary steps for sending relief.
Social Media for Assessment of Damage
How much damage has a natural disaster caused? It’s pretty difficult to assess this, especially when the disaster occurs across a wide area. A few years back, it would have taken days (or longer) for authorities to know about the extent of damage caused by a natural disaster. No more though. Now the news gets spread through social media in no time at all.
So, those who are looking to send relief to the affected areas can check out the conditions on social media and understand the requirements before going ahead with the relief operations.
Let Your Loved Ones Know that You’re Safe
Has the disaster hit the area where you stay? It’s essential to let your loved ones know that you are alive. And you need to use social media from your mobile phone, since telephone connections are sometimes taken out after the storms. Just put up a status on your social media profile or message them individually to inform them about your condition.
The speed at which social media helps in mobilizing the disaster relief process is really amazing. It’s really the perfect platform for people around the globe to remain updated about the conditions at the site of a natural disaster. And as a result it can facilitate getting help to survivors more quickly.
Disaster Relief Photo via Shutterstock
Social media has helped lots of people during disasters. Not only are people able to capture their experience, they are also now able to share it in real time.