Nothing is more beneficial during a modern disaster than public participation. As the saying goes, “two minds are better than one.” When it comes to social media, millions of minds come together to solve problems, seek out answers, and disseminate vital information. As has been evident in recent days, the public has played a key role in both information dissemination and assistance to authorities via social media.
Social Media Aids Disaster Recovery Efforts
A primary source of real-time information, social media has had a transformative effect on modern disaster recovery. It has played a key role in everything from natural disasters to man-made tragedies worldwide. Bystanders and people miles away take to social media during disasters for multiple purposes, from alerting authorities to who and where the injured may be and locating important persons of interest.
Social media also affords the government a nearly unparalleled level of transparency in times of disaster. Real time updates – like those which we saw during the apprehension of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects – allow the public to not just be witness to but also assist in times of crisis.
Social Media and The Spread of Vital Information
Social media also drives information dissemination at a rate never known before – hotlines to find injured family members are found quickly and easily, and the process of seeking and finding of loved ones has become a crowd-sourced process. Important information can be shared with millions, and by millions, quickly and efficiently.
Social Media and Disaster Relief
Social Media is also useful in the days and months following a disaster. Raising money for victims is no easy feat when done offline. “Crowd-funding” allows users near and far with a simple and fast way to donate to and solicit donations for victims of disasters. As we saw recently in Boston, in many cases hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for disaster victims. Social media allowed for triumph in the midst of tragedy, helping victims start new lives with a tremendous support system.
Natural disasters like the tsunami in Japan and Hurricane Sandy reflect the public’s desire to participate and aid victims through social media. Many turn to social media outlets first to learn what is happening, see how they can contribute, and keep on top of developing events.
Social Media Offers A Worldwide Network
Social media is an incredibly useful means for public participation and government transparency. Never again will there be a time where television is our only source of news during times of need and disaster. From aiding the FBI to aiding victims of national disasters, Twitter, Facebook and other online media serve as vital components of transparency and efficient outlets for managing disaster responses.