Posted by: lindseynewkirk | November 14, 2013

Social Media: A Privileged Persons Emergency Communication Tool

Every time there is a natural disaster, terrorism attack or public shooting, I remember that I need a disaster preparedness game plan.  I also think about the necessity of preparedness terms of climate change and the major challenges we will increasingly experience with the change of weather patterns and looming peak oil.

I was reading the RedCross PowerPoint presentation and lingered on the list of the most popular emergency apps: Weather Forecasting, Flashlight, First Aid, Police Scanner, and Disaster Preparedness.  I am so lucky: technology can make my preparedness easier and if something happens, I can rely on my smart phone to get vital information and to communicate with my loved ones.  Then I think about the large majority of victims of the natural disasters from over the past several years.  The poorer communities that are usually hit hardest probably didn’t have smart phones or much access to communication technologies.  Use of social media and apps is definitely a privileged persons’ opportunity.

So what about communities that don’t have these technologies?   Could the Red Cross invest in smart phones, set up with basic but most essential communication tools and emergency apps, that could be distributed to victims when it goes into a community to provide its services?  I also wonder how well infrastructure is set up to deal with enormous spikes in usage; is that something that’s to be of concern in relying on social media and technology in crisis communication?



  1. Also, in the NW, the most likely disaster that governments and the Red Cross are preparing for is a subduction earthquake, similar to the one that hit Japan. And the infrastructure supporting phones and Internet is expected to be seriously damaged. But I guess some of the functions of a smartphone will still be available, even if it’s not networked.

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