Thursday, 3 February 2011

How digital media is changing the way we respond to disasters

How digital media is changing the way we respond to disasters
By Sarah Oughton
February 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm


Twitter won't last long, I wouldn't bother with it.

This was the advice I remember receiving a couple of years ago at a communications conference with a speaker from a respected PR company.

But as the current situation in Egypt demonstrates; social media is fast changing the way we engage with each other on a personal, national and global scale. Less than an hour ago I did a Twitter search to find out the latest about the Jan 25 revolution and since then there's been almost 10,000 new tweets.

If you want to get real-time information about events going on around the corner or across the world, Twitter is where it's at. Hmmm, I wonder how that PR woman's career is going these days…


In Haiti and Pakistan we are seeing an increasing number of people using social media to contact the British Red Cross directly. When the Pakistan floods set in last August one Pakistani man left a message on our Posterous blog asking how he could help.

As a result, and within 24 hours of posting his comment, he was volunteering with our logistics emergency response unit providing invaluable help with the distribution of life-saving relief goods.

After the earthquake in Haiti, a hospital ran out of supplies and a local 'tweeter' contacted the British Red Cross via Twitter identifying the hospital's needs and location with GPS co-ordinates. We then contacted Rapid UK who were able to respond quickly to the situation.

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