Social media in disaster response
Yes, where were we? Social media was in Iran . . . but not Haiti. Or did I miss something?
This week, I listened to a very good “post mortem” on our response to the earthquake in Haiti. A surgeon had mobilized an entire team, got funding for a plane and then discovered the realities on the ground. First, they were diverted to the Dominican Republic. Then they found conditions in Haiti very different to what they imagined.
These were my three takeaways.
#1 Western professionals are very accustomed to have a system around them that they forget that someone has to organize the lights, the water, the diesel, the cleaning. In other word, the system in the west has become so taken for granted that it is invisible.
#2 The doctors lamented that no one seemed to take charge and coordinate. There seemed not even to be a map (though there might have been) to help first responders see where different services were located. It’s not enough for us to each take the initiative, even if our initiative is breathtaking in its brilliance. We must have a way of coordinating ourselves.
#3 The doctors didn’t mention social media. It is likely that cell phone towers were destroyed by the quake. But where was the social media response? Don’t we have the capacity to move in with temporary towers? What kind of dashboards are up-and-ready to go? Do the Red Cross, UN and Medicins sans Frontiers, etc have social media packages ready to roll?
Does anyone know? Who is working on social media in disaster response?