Over the last decade or so, social media has established itself as a central part of the way we communicate. Whether it’s staying in contact with friends and family, building professional networks, or finding entertainment, we typically think of social media as our first and best option for achieving our objectives.
For government and business, the world of social media has broadened beyond simply connecting with constituents and customers. Many companies rely heavily on social media to market themselves, seek new employees, and build linkages with other companies.
While many organizations do most of their social media in-house, others have looked to companies that provide those services for them. Social Vantage has a large base of businesses that utilize them for maintaining their social media presence.
The result has been sleek, efficient outlets that draw lots of attention, which also makes them a perfect avenue for information when emergencies and other crises arrive. Effective social media activity can help mitigate emergencies in several key ways.
When major disasters hit, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, standard methods of communication may be lost. Television cables can be severed, phone lines can fall, and radio transmission towers can topple or lose power. And any of these services can fail with equipment intact if key personnel are unable to get to work due to road blockages.
Because mobile phones are inherently built for redundancy, there is typically a higher level of reliability. That permits agencies to utilize social media to solicit contacts for specific relief and response information. The outdated method of telephone hotlines is no longer critical; governments need only to share the social media contact points to get information started in.
Once the posts get going, government and business can start to comprehend the scope of what’s taking place, making it easier to get the appropriate processes going.
Relief & Assistance
Thanks to aerial photos, GPS mapping, and countless navigation systems, the planet is very thoroughly mapped. But the process of accumulating, assimilating, and uploading all that information into the systems that use it is still fairly slow. When disaster strikes, things change quickly. Bridges are washed out, mudslides cover roads, and the equipment needed to get there to make repairs may not even be able to leave its base of operations.
When people are blocked in and unable to receive help or go get it, social media can help. When phones fail, a quick tweet can go directly to operations centers. For example, someone can make a post that an oxygen-dependent neighbor needs additional tanks brought to the home. Managers can then direct the lifesaving equipment to the home, potentially saving a life.
The same is true of the need for volunteers at a feeding site, cattle trailers to evacuate livestock from a damaged farm, or leaks from water lines. When government and business can monitor the situation and see what is needed without relying on damaged communications networks, help arrives more quickly.
A broad-scoped disaster can be very difficult to assess, yet the need for updates is critical from the first moments. How many inches of rain or snow have fallen? Which gas stations are in operation? How many people are hurt? What roads are impassable?
With relatively small staffs, most governments can’t deploy enough people to get this information in person, so they rely heavily on citizens in the field to report in. This speeds the process of getting the information brought together, and it allows the social media platform to gather and organize the data.
Businesses can benefit as well. Employees can notify them of where the company’s services may be needed, and they can also report if they will be unable to get to work. The companies can gauge where their products or services may be needed, speeding the process of getting things to the scene.
A key cog that frequently fails in times of crisis is communication. Because social media can work through a variety of systems that have multiple methods of transmission, is so flexible, both ends of the conversation have a better chance to get the word out about what is needed and what’s being done.