Author: McKenzie Parrott.
Social media activity and the usage of cell phones has grown immensely in the past decade. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and many more are being used to enhance communication methods and are innovative outlets for creativity. Social media provides opportunities and possibilities to interact and engage with people during emergencies. Social media has now become a platform for disseminating relevant information and gathering posted information. Whether in preparation for, response to, or recovery from an emergency event, social media is being utilized and is transforming emergency communications in a positive way.
Emergency management processes were formerly one directional information. Information was gathered over 9-1-1 calls and from first responders. Say goodbye to the days of one-way communication and relying on bulletins for disaster news. Now emergency managers are exposed to vast amounts of information, originating from the public and typically ahead of formal notifications. Social media creates a channel for broadcasting emergency communications to the public and provides the means for communities to converse and engage during disasters. The emergence and reliance on social media have fundamentally improved the way we prepare for and recover from a disaster.
Billions of people are currently using social media as a tool to communicate. Today the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local entities, and emergency operators are utilizing many social platforms. Social media is an impeccable tool during an emergency. For example, using social media during disasters can assist with:
- Disseminating information to a wider public audience
- Increased interaction and public participation/engagement
- Tracking emergency situations
- Situational awareness and monitoring (allows for a better sense of what is happening at the scene of the incident)
- Improved collaboration for sharing information and lessons learned
Communication is one of the fundamental tools of emergency management and social media has allowed preparation and response processes to become more widely known. Regardless of the type of emergency, whether it’s a tornado, hurricane, fire, flood, or terrorist attack, social media is a tool everyone should be aware of and use. The American Red Cross conducted a survey of 1,058 adults on the topic of “Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies”. The results concluded that 69% of the adults responding felt that emergency response agencies should regularly monitor websites and social media sites so they can respond promptly to requests for help. Society has evolved so much that not only, are individuals using social media as their chosen emergency communication platform, but also, expecting that social media play a key part in response efforts and operations.
In any emergency its essential to be prepared, informed, and in communication with peers. If you have any questions regarding the use of social media during emergencies and overall preparedness concerns or inquiries, please contact me at McKenzie.Parrott@cdrmaguire.com and also visit our website at cdr-em.com to inform yourself on other ways to plan for, communicate during, and recover from an emergency.