Improving Disaster Response with Social Media

Two years have not erased Typhoon Yolanda from people’s lives and memories. But despite the destruction it left behind, hope and help bloomed on social media. In the Philippines, where more than 40 million people are connected via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, many were able to reach out and lend a helping hand.


Combating Disaster with Information

One of the greatest difficulties encountered when delivering disaster relief is the lack of accurate information. In the face of large-scale catastrophes, there are often not enough rescue workers or volunteers who can gather the data needed to make operations more efficient. Precious time is often wasted searching for victims rather than providing aid.

Not with social media. Disaster victims can Tweet or post status updates on Facebook to send a distress signal or reassure their loved ones of their safety. They can also use it to pinpoint the exact location of other victims and direct rescue teams to where they are needed most. Additionally, connected users can provide real-time updates on the ground. By removing the need to search, rescue workers can help victims faster and more effectively.


Organizing Volunteers

Besieged rescue and social workers can’t provide comprehensive aid by themselves. Yolanda ravaged over 60 thousand families. Hundreds of helping hands were required to pack and distribute relief goods. But thanks to traditional and new media, the word was spread far and wide on the need for volunteers. Those who could and wanted to join heard the message and participated in the cause.


Recruiting Donations

Restoration in areas affected by Yolanda required plenty of capital, which the Philippines couldn’t fully meet. Fortunately, the country wasn’t alone. People from all over the world saw the devastation on their social media feeds and donated money to support relief efforts.


While social media is often used to ogle at pets, share funny memes, or do marketing, it can do so much more. In times of disaster, it can be a lifeline.

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