Emergency: Social Media in Action

My thoughts are with Boston tonight.  The marathon explosion took away 3 lives and injured more than 100 people.  Not only the city of Boston but also everyone around the entire nation is going through the chaos to rescue and help out victims.  The media has been on the roll to provide updates on news, stories, and government’s responses.  Google has generated at 412,000,000 results within 0.23 seconds with keyword search ‘boston marathon explosion’, by 10PM on the day of the event, April 8th, 2013.

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More importantly, there are also resources integrated by social media as emergency respond activities. NBC News published an article, Boston Bombing Aftermath: How You Can Help, giving tips to families and friends to get involved and to initiate help to the victims.  The most impressive tools are Google’s idea on gathering information of people who have a place to offer and of people who need a place to stay.  The first person to fill out the Google form started at and every 5 seconds comes a new entry.  There are also individualized the information with section ‘Other info’.

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The affect of social media in emergency is indeed very powerful.  Besides the good deeds and how much social media can be helpful in responding to crisis, it could be a useful marketing and emergency management tool for non-profit organization such as American Red Cross, Maryland Emergency Management AgencyFederal Emergency Management Agency, hospitals etc.  American Red Cross comes up with mobile apps to motivate people to prepare during emergency and crisis, by providing information, useful tools and a way to let loved ones know they are safe.

The benefits of social media in emergency management essentially are considered strategic marketing and communications tool for private philanthropy, foundations, and corporations.  Generally speaking, social media provide an enormous package of benefit to non-profit businesses/organizations.  It also changes the way non-profit works.  To list a few:

  1. Improve operation efficiency and capacity in services, including responding to crisis and recovery and rebuilding after crisis (Hurricane Sandy: Red Cross, Other Relief Organizations See Social Media As ‘Double-Edged Sword’ For Relief Efforts).  This benefit essentially improve coordination with other businesses such as healthcare services, utilities such as gas, water, electricity, media and communication, etc.)
  2. Fundraising through online social media campaigns.
  3. Volunteer recruitment and team building (How to Help Boston Marathon Victims).
  4. Online collaboration tools such as FEMA’s Collaboration Community where people can exchange ideas of what to do in responding to emergency.  This enhance emergence preparedness.
  5. Effective communication method with stakeholders, victims, decision makers, etc. which improve control and support faster service and broader engagement.  With Dell’s support, Red Cross utilizes Social Media Command Center right after a disaster in order to find survivors who desperately need help.  It is a two-way communication between the general public and these emergency response organizations.  It is a method of crowd-sourcing.