Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Importance of Social Media During Natural Disasters by Sette Capati

The Importance of Social Media During Natural Disasters

by Sette Capati
I saw the potentials of web 2.0 tools such as blogging and social media during natural disasters in Philippines. I saw the enthusiasm of Filipino citizens who want to help the authorities and rescuers in various places from North to South Luzon. The internet made the world smaller and accessible.
See my vantage point from the heart of Luzon.
Yesterday, I woke up early around 6AM and found myself staring blankly outside my window. It was still raining. The weather was inviting so I went back to sleep and woke up again around 12NN. It was still raining.
It's time to get up. I realized the situation was getting serious. I turned the Wi-Fi and rolled out my laptop, iPod and phone. I read some Twitter updates about "habagat." "The rain with no name." It wasn't a typhoon, but the relentless heavy rains caused so much trouble in my country. (And my original plan was to sit back, relax and drink my hot coffee as I zap the keys for late-afternoon work.)
Hagupit-ng-Habagat-PHalerts AP Photo Aaron Favila
I saw my fellow bloggers' tweets and RT's. It's getting serious and I really want to help. One thing I learned about social media and blogging on The 8th Philippine Blogging Summit is this:"Bloggers are citizens." Tonyo Cruz discussed social media and social change, and I agree that it can make an impact in our nation.
Pampanga heavy rains flash floods
The torrential monsoon rains have caused flash floods, deadly landscapes, waist and neck-deep water in various provinces and Metro Manila.
City of San Fernando flash floods
Communication is much easier when we use social media as a medium during natural disasters. Participating in tweet updates and re-tweets can help authorities and rescuers acquire real-time situations in various places. Rescue operations will be faster while the information spreads like wildfire amidst the heavy rains. Other residents also uploaded photos on Facebook and shared their thoughts, encouragement to friends and loved ones.
San Fernando flash floods
To keep it light and easy, (I'll avoid technical terms), I'll introduce you to my friend on Twitter.  The #hashtag
Here's what happens when users tweet with #hashtag:
#ReliefPH and #RescuePH
  • It organizes information for rescue operations. To include full name, number and address
Hagupit-ng-Habagat-RescuePH-hashtag
  •  It provides information where to drop donations and how-to's
Hagupit-ng-Habagat-RescuePH-donations
You see, hashtag is very important. It's the number one friend of any internet marketer, promoter and serves as "smoke signal" during natural disasters. Authorities and rescuers can read these hash tags anytime.
To get information during natural disasters, use the official Philippine government hashtag#PHalerts
Hagupit-ng-Habagat-PHalerts
Harness the power of Twitter and use #PrayForThePhilippines to encourage fellow Filipinos locall and abroad. Tweet what's happening in our country and tap the power of Twitter trends.
Prayers and encouragements from celebrities and friends all over the world:
Hagupit-ng-Habagat-PrayForThePhilippines
Let's maximize what we have. A lot of internet users still don't know how to leverage the power of social media, and as citizens it's time to educate and inform everyone. Let's unite and help in all possible ways. Facebook and Twitter were not designed for posting your daily conundrums.

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