This is what academic folks call a trend. What really strikes me though is the AMAZING growth. In just three years, we've gone from less than five or ten percent of the country reporting they use the internet, to more than two-thirds. And this data is from February 2012, do you think the reported amounts are higher or lower now?
This massive growth in social media use has ramifications in the real world. We've gone from a world where a person has information, and in order to disseminate it, they've got to find someone else, via phone or in person or mail, tell someone else (animate first arrow), then tell someone else (animate second arrow), and on (animate third arrow), and on (animate fourth arrow). This is extremely labor intensive and slow. And frankly, inequitable. If you aren't in the "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" with that first guy, well, you couldn't find out about that info.
Today though, our information distribution methods have changed. Now, when we want to distribute information, we just post it online. And anyone who wants to (animate inner-most circle) find it, can. And they can share it (animate middle circle) with their friends and networks, and on (animate outer-most circle) and on.
And that information no longer travels along privileged highways. Anyone with a browser or a smartphone can access and forward it. And you can see here, that's more people than most folks think. Nearly half of all Americans have smartphones. And a racial divide? Quite the opposite to what we'd expect. More blacks and Hispanics have them then whites. Some studies have shown that they use them as their primary source of Internet access.
So lets see what's going on in the world of disasters. Can anyone see any trends here? Anything really going on? Well, aside from the blindingly obvious. There actually is something going on that makes this chart a bit disingenuous (though, not sneakily so). The chart is showing Reported Disasters. And we just talked about how it's easier to get information out, so we should expect that this increase should happen, even expect it to be at this crazy level. The little chart in the corner, though, is where the real meat of the matter is. Floods and cyclones--in other words, climactic disasters--are on the rise. And since these things tend to affect huge swaths of space, it's unlikely that they would've been under-reported. Somehow the source of this got cut off; its from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
This is a video produced by Twitter on the 2011 East Coast earthquake. Remember this? I was at work, and we totally freaked. Not a ton of damage, which is nice. I think Philadelphia reported a single pane of glass broken in one of the high-rises. It was like a practice run. And for folks who work in emergencies and follow social media uses, this video was the biggest lesson learned. (Play video) We, as responders, will NEVER again be the first to learn of something. Something blows up or gets knocked down or cataclysms, we're going to learn about it AFTER the fact.
Ushahidi is a tremendous tool that's been used by folks who call themselves, crisis mappers. Has anyone heard of crisis mapping? (Review CM and a bit about the history of Ushahidi.) On the top chart, you can see the massive number of reports that were received and tracked by Ushahidi. A massive data set of emergency reports, requests, updates. At the same time, folks weren't just using SMS, the middle chart demonstrates the insane amount of Twitter posts right as the earthquake hits. The darker shaded area, right at the spike, is the earthquake. While it was happening, 12% of all tweets in the world were coming from Japan, presumably about the earthquake. Communications were so affected in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown that the State Department was reduced to communicating with US citizens in Japan via social media and other tech tools.
Similarly to what crisis mappers do, some folks (especially emergency managers) have begun organizing themselves into volunteer response networks called VOSTs. (Describe VOSTs.) In 2011, during the Shadow Lake wildfire (describe Shadow Lake), the IMT PIO activated the first VOST and asked for help with managing the social media of the event. The VOST found a tiny little blog had posted a blog post on the ORFire teams using a tiny little bridge to get to an area to stage resources. The blogger snapped some photos of the trucks, and complained that, while the truckers were placing themselves in danger from using this historical, rickety bridge, they risked damaging a key thoroughfare that the local used. In hours, the VOST identified the blogger, and connected them with the IMT PIO, who coordinated with the Operations and Planning Sections to ensure that no more trucks used that bridge. While this situation may have stopped at this tiny, completely unheard of blog, the complaints may very well have gone viral and generated significant public outcry directed at the response for their tone-deafness and heavy-handed approach. Being forced to deal with this outcry would have undoubtedly taken the IC and PIO away from their primary goal, fighting the fire.
Does everyone remember this one? The theater shooting in Aurora, CO? (Describe what happened.) Even though this happened in the middle of the night and was over in a matter of minutes, social media played a role, especially with the families devastated by the shooting. Folks on Reddit (anyone on there?) were among the first to find out about the shooting and in one thread began collecting every shred of evidence and mention about it. Folks with police scanners would post official police reports, people in hospitals were posting about victim admissions, folks in the area were posting on the ground reports. What emerged was the single most complete record of the shooting. The effort was reminiscent of what's considered the first time that social a media was useful in an emergency, the Virginia Tech shooting. Police and emergency managers we appalled to admit that people on Facebook has the full and complete list of victims identified and collated before the university released that anyone had even been killed.
EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, MO Nearby citizens set up JoplinTornadoInfo Facebook page to coordinate information City of Joplin utilized private Page to distribute official messages
And we'll finish up our last example with the most recent, Hurricane Sandy. I think everyone's seen these pictures, the damage from the fire in the Far Rockaways, the roller coaster in Seaside Heights. But from a social media perspective, aside from the natural progression of social media use and stories about the FDNY social media person, that's not the real story.
No, the real story of social media in Sandy is these. Pictures. Specifically, Instagram. Anyone on Instagram? Both of these pictures were taken by Instagram users, and showed what was actually happening, on-the-ground, in real time. Emergency managers, if they have wherewithal and ability, can have thousands of sensors giving ground truth. And this one (click for middle image to appear), this shows the future of what crisis communications is. Not only do emergency managers have access to thousands of sensors, so do the media. They actively search for leads on social media. And this isn't the first time I've seen this. Talk about the O'Hare quarantine story.
Thank you all so much for your time and attention today. If you have any questions, or want to learn more, head to my site. Now, if you have any questions, I'm lets chat.
Social Media and Emergencies
Social Mediain Emergencies James Garrow Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Shadow Lake Wildland Fire"One of those trucks went across the bridge!" she told me."Wow. Even the school bus doesnt cross that bridge. Its notdesigned for large trucks.When we saw them going up that road, we wanted to run out andwave our hands, yelling wrong way, wrong way!“-hinessight.blogs.com