Imagine a world where using social media for disaster resilience is the social norm. Where the whole community joins together to use social media to help prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, resulting in more lives saved, properties protected and faster community recovery.
Imagine a world where emergency services, government, NGOs, schools, hospitals, community groups, media, business and citizens use social media to inform, share and collaborate to face emergencies and disasters.
Citizens promoting resilience
Imagine a world where in the leadup to disaster seasons such as floods, the whole community uses social media to raise awareness and share preparedness plans with their friends, family and workplaces. A great example of this is America’s Preparathon! a nationwide, community based campaign by Ready.gov to increase emergency preparedness. A key strategy is TweetChats (see above).
Another key strategy is providing disaster preparedness social media toolkits for the community to use for social media sharing. See this Facebook post encouraging people to share flood safety in their community by downloading a flood safety toolkit with suggested Tweets, Facebook posts and graphics:
Empowering people with disabilities
Imagine a world where people with a disability use social media to better prepare for and respond to disasters and where the accessibility issues of using social media no longer exist. We created the Wiki Accessibility Toolkit with tips to help people with a disability overcome social media issues and to help agencies ensure their social media messages are accessible:
Sending Twitter Alerts directly to mobile phones
Imagine a world where emergency agencies in all countries send Twitter Alerts with urgent warning messages directly to citizen’s mobile phones. Unlike a normal tweet which can be missed, in times of emergency and disaster agencies can use Twitter Alerts to send push notifications to the mobile phones of those who signup. Here is an example of a Twitter Alert by the Queensland Police warning residents to evacuate ahead of Cyclone Marcia:
— QPS Media Unit (@QPSmedia) February 19, 2015
Providing multi-disaster smartphone apps that alert and empower
Imagine a world where every country has a free multi-disaster smartphone app that issues push notification warnings based on geolocation, empowers citizens to act as early warning detectors, offers live tweets from key official agencies, information on how to prepare for disasters, maps pinpointing evacuation shelters, that empowers citizens to share their own photos and videos from the disaster zone and to ask for or offer assistance with emergency relief.
While we can’t yet point you to a disaster app with all these features (if you know of one please contact us and we’ll add it to our global apps directory), we believe it’s possible because there are mobile disaster apps containing many of these features, such as the US Government Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) app below which provides disaster preparedness information, evacuation shelter lists, access to live tweets from official agencies, and enables citizens to share their own share images from disaster zones:
Australia’s EmergencyAus smartphone app also has a number of these features such as multi-disaster alerts, push notification warnings based on geolocation, empowering citizens to act as early warning detectors including sharing photos from the scene, and to ask for or offer emergency relief. NB: this is not an official government app:
Imagine a world where emergency services partner with the community to crowdsource localized information from citizens. Where along with providing mobile apps enabling citizen information sharing, they also provide online crowdmaps with emergency information, which easily enable posting by the community via text, Tweet or email. For example this Tweet by Brisbane City Council promotes a crowdmap they created during the Queensland Floods in Australia in 2013 using a free user-friendly crowdmap provided by Ushahidi:
Health services alerting to pandemics and disaster response
Imagine if agencies in all countries used social media to instantly broadcast pandemic alerts and warnings to citizens, including information on how to prevent the spread of infection. For example with the Ebola outbreak, Nigeria agencies successfully used Twitter and Facebook to send alerts and infection control information to quickly contain the outbreak:
Minister of Communication Technology (@ngrcommtech) says use of Android app, Facebook and Twitter instrumental in fight against ebola.
— NOA Nigeria (@NOA_Nigeria) October 24, 2014
EbolaAlert, a nonprofit and volunteer lead initiative were key to this, and after their success in Nigeria they are operating in the other Ebola affected African countries.
People diagnosed with Ebola Virus Disease must be isolated immediately to prevent further spread of the infection. #EBOLAFACT
— Ebola Alert (@EbolaAlert) January 30, 2015
Imagine a world where health services in every country use social media during disasters to alert the community to important updates such as hospital evacuations and closures, updates to patient’s families and to employees on reporting for work. See these tweets by New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation during Hurricane Sandy that struck the US in 2012:
Below is a tweet from Queensland Health on restoration of power to key hospitals after the recent Tropical Cyclone Marcia that struck northern Australia:
Good news! Power restored to Rockhampton Base Hospital & crews working on restoring power to the Rockhampton Mater #TCMarcia
— Queensland Health (@qldhealthnews) February 21, 2015
Digital volunteers provide information aid
Imagine a world where digital volunteers specialising in disaster response were utilised by all countries to provide ‘information aid’, helping emergency services monitor social media, respond to calls for help and map damage. The Digital Humanitarian Network (see below), Humanity Road and Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST) are doing great work around the world assisting emergency service agencies in times of emergencies and disaster.
Empowering communities to directly help each other in recovery
Imagine a world where in the recovery phase, social media, mobile apps and crowdmaps are used to empower communities to directly help one another by donating and accessing relief supplies, accommodation and volunteer help. Below is an example of a crowdmap for disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy 2013:
Together we can create this world!
We believe that together we can create such a world, because as we have demonstrated, there are examples of this already happening.
But we still have a long way to go before using social media for disaster resilience becomes a social norm… where the whole of the community: emergency services, government, NGOs, hospitals, schools, community groups, business, media and citizens join together to use social media to inform, share and collaborate to face emergencies and disasters.
Capacity building and empowerment
We believe what is needed is capacity building by providing the ‘know how’ for using social media and new technologies in the disaster context, and empowerment by providing access to the tools to enable the community to help themselves and each other.
The Emergency 2.0 Wiki, as an online global information hub and collaborative knowledge sharing model crowdsourcing the latest technology and best practices for using social media for disaster resilience, is committed to capacity building and empowering communities.
The wiki has tips and resources for citizens, emergency agencies, local government, schools, hospitals, NGOs, community groups and business to use social media to better prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters. We encourage you to use the resources, adapt our tips for your own messaging and link to us.
— UNISDR (@unisdr) January 24, 2015
We believe that governments also need policy change to ensure agencies integrate social media into emergency management and disaster resilience and we are advocating for this. We also believe this policy change needs to incorporate a whole of community partnership approach to using social media for disaster resilience. Watch this space for a report on the anticipated inclusion of social media in the new global disaster framework to be ratified at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) to be held in Sendai City in Japan this week 14-18 March.
We made recommendations for the technological input toward the post 2015 framework via a special conference, the 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference (IDRC Davos 2014) coordinated by the Global Risk Forum in collaboration with the UNISDR. We encourage you to add your voice to the online policy debate for WCDRR via #WCDRR and #Road2sendai.
We need you!
Social media and new technology is changing so rapidly that what is best practice today for using social media in emergencies and disasters is not best practice tomorrow. It’s why the Emergency 2.0 Wiki is such an important resource – we save people time trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ by providing up to date information and tips on using the new technologies in the emergency context.
As a volunteer driven non profit, we are always on the lookout for volunteers keen to share their knowledge and to help us drive and promote the wiki. See How to Help for more information.
We are looking for sponsors to partner with us to support our operations and to deliver key initiatives such as our proposed Community Resilience Toolkit and Business Resilience Toolkit. To discuss please contact our CEO Eileenculleton@gmail.com.
Pro bono partners
Our Strategic Plan
Want to know more about where we are headed? Here’s a link to our Strategic Plan that we developed ‘wiki style’, by incorporating ideas crowdsourced from the online community. We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who put forward their ideas.
Thank you to our Emergency 2.0 Wiki Community who help us provide this vital resource including our volunteers, reference group members, alliance partners, pro bono partners and board members. We look forward to working with the global community in 2015 in helping make social media for disaster resilience a social norm.
Eileen Culleton, Founder and CEO (voluntary)