Use of Social Media in Disasters

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This presentation describes some of the key usages of social media in disasters.

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  • Social media is becoming a key tool in disaster response. Craig Fugate, head of FEMA said back in January 2011 that it was THE TOOL for interacting with citizens (http://blog.fema.gov/2011/01/wired-twitter-and-beyond-social-media.html). For you to have an opportunity to participate in a roundtable with the heads of the main social media companies is extremely valuable for NetHope and its member. I fully support you participating and feel that we could make good use of it for our members making those connections. When it comes to social media you can split up the usage into 3 purposes: Advocacy and Fundraising – utilizing social media to interact more closely with people donating and influencing public opinion (Olivier from UNHCR was one of the first to utilize this)Information Sharing with affected communities – reaching out during disasters to the affected community with information about services, threats, etc.Information Management – utilizing the social media platforms to collect, process, analyze and disseminate information required for organizations to do their work Advocacy and Fundraising We all know the importance of being able to tell a story that moves people. Twenty years ago we hardly heard about disasters striking on the news and we needed concerts which showed us images of starving children to reach for our wallets in masses. With the proliferation of traditional media we now get disasters shown live in our living rooms. As an NGO working in the affected area, it takes a lot of effort to build and maintain a relationship with key media people to ensure they visit you in the field and show your good work. Social media is breaking down this model. Instead of having to rely on traditional media, NGOs can now tell the story directly, not only to their mailing lists, but also to the internet community at wide. Many NGOs are now equipping their field workers with small digital video cameras (Flip) and push them towards taking videos of the work being done. Few years back if you mentioned blogs or YouTube to directors of international programs for major NGOs like IFRC then they would be terrified at the thought of their people writing about the work online. Now they encourage it. This change in behavior has been just in the last 18 months or so. Field workers are now taught how to use social media to generate awareness of the work they are doing. Through social network like FaceBook and Twitter the NGO community can now expand their donor base by encouraging their followers to spread information about the good work they are doing. In the aftermath of Haiti, American Red Cross used this coupled with text messages as a fundraising vehicle. Never in the history of fundraising has so much money been generated so fast. They got $5million in the first 48 hours and within 2 weeks they had $32 million and their final figure was $40 million dollars just through this. This story has been widely discussed in the media since it was such as great success. Information Sharing with Affected Communities This is where Craig Fugate, director of FEMA is seeing big opportunities. As more and more citizens live inside social networks such as FaceBook and Twitter, emergency management organizations are encouraged to utilize these to share information about the threat approaching (hurricane, flood, etc.), where to evacuate to and then as a mechanism for communicating with the affected citizens on where to go for services, etc. There is some great write up by Kim Stephens on the iDisaster 2.0 blog about the recent floods in Australia. Here are two links: http://idisaster.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/queensland-police-facebook-page-best-practice-in-crisis-communications/http://idisaster.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/queensland-flood-event-leveraging-technology-during-a-crisis/ Information Management This is an area I have been very involved in. The idea here is simple. Leverage the power of the crowd (the internet community) to help you perform very complex data processing and analysis. I have written a blog post about this here http://blog.disasterexpert.org/2010/12/outsourcing-crisis-information.html 
  • When it comes to social media you can split up the usage into 3 purposes: Advocacy and Fundraising – utilizing social media to interact more closely with people donating and influencing public opinion (Olivier from UNHCR was one of the first to utilize this)Information Sharing with affected communities – reaching out during disasters to the affected community with information about services, threats, etc.Information Management – utilizing the social media platforms to collect, process, analyze and disseminate information required for organizations to do their work
  • Advocacy and Fundraising We all know the importance of being able to tell a story that moves people. Twenty years ago we hardly heard about disasters striking on the news and we needed concerts which showed us images of starving children to reach for our wallets in masses. With the proliferation of traditional media we now get disasters shown live in our living rooms. As an NGO working in the affected area, it takes a lot of effort to build and maintain a relationship with key media people to ensure they visit you in the field and show your good work. Social media is breaking down this model. Instead of having to rely on traditional media, NGOs can now tell the story directly, not only to their mailing lists, but also to the internet community at wide. Many NGOs are now equipping their field workers with small digital video cameras (Flip) and push them towards taking videos of the work being done. Few years back if you mentioned blogs or YouTube to directors of international programs for major NGOs like IFRC then they would be terrified at the thought of their people writing about the work online. Now they encourage it. This change in behavior has been just in the last 18 months or so. Field workers are now taught how to use social media to generate awareness of the work they are doing. Through social network like FaceBook and Twitter the NGO community can now expand their donor base by encouraging their followers to spread information about the good work they are doing.
  • In the aftermath of Haiti, American Red Cross used this coupled with text messages as a fundraising vehicle. Never in the history of fundraising has so much money been generated so fast. They got $5million in the first 48 hours and within 2 weeks they had $32 million and their final figure was $40 million dollars just through this. This story has been widely discussed in the media since it was such as great success.
  • This is where Craig Fugate, director of FEMA is seeing big opportunities. As more and more citizens live inside social networks such as FaceBook and Twitter, emergency management organizations are encouraged to utilize these to share information about the threat approaching (hurricane, flood, etc.), where to evacuate to and then as a mechanism for communicating with the affected citizens on where to go for services, etc. There is some great write up by Kim Stephens on the iDisaster 2.0 blog about the recent floods in Australia. Here are two links: http://idisaster.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/queensland-police-facebook-page-best-practice-in-crisis-communications/http://idisaster.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/queensland-flood-event-leveraging-technology-during-a-crisis/
  • Information Management This is an area I have been very involved in. The idea here is simple. Leverage the power of the crowd (the internet community) to help you perform very complex data processing and analysis. I have written a blog post about this here http://blog.disasterexpert.org/2010/12/outsourcing-crisis-information.html 
  • Use of Social Media in Disasters

    1. 1. The Role of Social Media in DisastersSeptember 2011<br />
    2. 2.
    3. 3.
    4. 4.
    5. 5. Advocacy<br />
    6. 6.
    7. 7. Citizen<br />Communication<br />
    8. 8.
    9. 9. SMS 4636<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11.
    12. 12.
    13. 13. Information Management Tool<br />
    14. 14.
    15. 15.
    16. 16. @patrickmeier<br />

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