E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Twitter and the Power of Micro-Blogging in Emergencies

As time goes by, and we get to read more and more on the various benefits from making use of micro-blogging social software tools like Twitter, I thought I would share today a couple of comments on one particular blog post referencing one of those various benefits from such tools, and Twitter in particular, that surely is very powerful not only from a business perspective, but also from a personal / individual one.

Check out New on YouTube: Use Twitter in Emergencies! by David Stephenson (Over at Stephenson Strategies), where you would be able to find a very helpful vodcast from David where he is clearly demonstrating how micro-blogging applications like Twitter could be used, specially, in emergencies, and not just to carry on with that declarative living we all seem to enjoy quite a bit. Here you have some of the reasons David gets to mention that should really be an eye opener to most folks who may not see just yet the clear perks of making use of such online presence tools:

  • "it demonstrates that a Web 2.0 application that’s in wide use, so many people are already familiar with it and wouldn’t have to learn it in a disaster, can easily switch to serving a totally different function in an emergency
  • it solves a serious problem in a simple way
  • it harnesses the power of existing social networks during a disaster.
  • a few smart municipal agencies and relief agencies "get it", and are already capitalizing on Twitter for emergency communication
  • even if other government agencies don’t catch on, we the people can use it ourselves, without permission or government support"

What is really good about David’s blog post and YouTube vodcast is the fact that he makes it so simple, yet so effective and efficient to use, that it is almost no brainer getting ready with it: Just sign up and spread the word around through your various social networks. And off you go. Ready to go on with that declarative living of yours and ready to face whatever the emergency and keep those who need to know informed about what is going on. Hopefully, you will never need to make use of such social software tools for such purposes, but, just in case, it will take you about a minute to set things up and sharing David’s vodcast with those who you think would benefit from it right away.

Still think that tools like Twitter do not provide any value to everyone out there? Regardless whether you are on to social software or not, incredibly helpful tips as the one David shared with us a little while ago, can only confirm the penetration that social computing tools can have not only within our day to day work within the Enterprise, but also with our own personal lives.

Here is the embedded version of the YouTube videocast:

(A massive thanks to David for putting together such a great blog post and an even better vodcast for all of us to re-use and keep spreading the word around! Thanks, David! Well done!

Special mention as well the wiki space that Nancy White and a few other folks have been using to build further up on How have you used twitter to collaborate?)

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  1. Luis – Ambient presencing tools like Twitter have a big role to play for organisations where staff are distributed all over the place and they need to get a sense of what everyone else is doing. We just need to get the interfaces it a bit better IMHO…

  2. For a bit now, I have been following the benefits of ICT in crisis management. When the communication and collaboration of stakeholders involved (public emergency bodies, military, NGOs, citizens, etc.) is critical to minimize the negative effects of a humanitarian or environmental emergency, ICT can play an immense role. Not only it empowers their collaboration efforts but helps mitigate the biggest barrier, a culture of non-sharing. In Finland, Ahtisaari’s Crisis Management Initiative has provided a lot of evidence on this issue.

    Unfortunately, tragedies happen all over the world, but only when it has started to hit hard our “developed” countries (floods in Britain, huracan Katrina, foreigners in Asia during the tsunami), we have started to empower the change.

    It seems evident then that if every one of us have the tools at hand, the effects of catastrophes (int this case provoked fires) like we see every summer in Greece, Portugal, Spain (including my home Canary Islands), could definitely be minimized if we saw public authorities supporting education and stimulating their use. Although for a different purpose, but still resembling awesome value, I am impressed with initiatives like Ushahidi (testimony in Swahili) that have build a platform that crowdsources crisis information.

    Going back to Twitters role, I am sure you all have seen the spectacular presentation by Clay Shirky on TED. It is self-explanatory and I recommend you to check it out.

    If anyone else has other interesting iniciatives like Ushahidi, please share 🙂

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