Social Media, Its Impact on Emergencies . . . And Vice-Versa

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YourWeatherBlog has been around for a while now – in fact, Lauren’s post on Friday was YWB post number 450 – and after that much time and experience, you pick up a few pointers about productive posting.  One of those points is:  Don’t blog about other blogs.

There’s a typo on the upper-left section where the result is 69% – should be ‘monitor’ and not ‘motor.’ And certainly it’s not “Fort Hood Hood (sic), TX.” But overall, a fascinating look at today.

Except for today, and with kudos to Mashable.  Because has come up with a thought-provoking infographic that anyone at all interested in business continuity will be, well, interested in.  “Thought-provoking infographics” are becoming almost as ubiquitous as blogs themselves, but I digress and this posting is threatening to implode on itself.

My point today is that we’ve all heard and read the phrase “social media has really changed the way we communicate” so many times that it’s almost lost all meaning.   But take a really good look at what this graphic says.   For instance, in the event of an area-wide emergency, a combined 71% might, probably or definitely would use social media channels to let friends and family know they’re safe.  That’s two out of three people who would probably depend on Facebook or Twitter to get such important news out to their loved ones.  That’s amazing.  And yet another reason that your organization should consider setting up its own social media presence if it doesn’t have one already . . . and maybe multiple redundant venues just to make sure.

The individual services may come and go – five years from now we’ll all be snoobing on our StarHud accounts, whatever those will look like – but online sharing with the world is here to stay.   If you don’t think your participation is necessary, take another look at the graphic.

Granted, although data sources for the infographic (igloo, American Red Cross, Twitter itself, etc.) are cited, no mention is made of who was polled to generate these percentages.  I’d be particularly interested to see what age range was queried because presented with a sudden emergency, I’d dial 911 a hundred times before I resorted to tweeting about it.  Then again, maybe that just means I’m old.

Although, come to think of it, in the weeks without electricity* after Ike, we did use Twitter on our phones to find ice, see which restaurants in our neighborhood were opening for brief periods and to hear about which bars were rationing out much-coveted cell phone charging outlets.  So.  Maybe I’m not so old after all.

* ImpactWeather Ops lost power only briefly after Ike and during that time, we were supported by our large, dependable and always fueled-up generator.  At home, I was not quite so blessed.

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