Understanding the Power of Social Media as a Communication Tool in the Aftermath of Disasters is the just-released record of a hearing, last year, before the Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs.
The devastating storms that swept across the South in late Spring of 2011 created billions of dollars in damage and historic loss of life. Social media played an unprecedented role in the chaotic aftermath of these disasters — in search and rescue, family reunification, safety updates, communication of vital shelter information, and all around situational awareness — as individuals, first responders, and rescue and recovery agencies reached out across social networks exchanging critical real-time information.
To better understand how the Fed might effectively utilize social media in responding to future disasters, the Senate committee brought together a panel of experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (which has used Facebook and other social media outlets since 2008), the American Red Cross, Google, and CrisisCommons (a volunteer technology community that promotes innovative crisis management). For anyone interested in the growth of social media, the report makes fascinating reading.
Link to the report online: http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo24496
More on the Federal Depository Library Program: http://www.gpo.gov/libraries/