9 ways social media benefits communities in crisis situations in 2016

Every year, disasters and terrorist threats occur in homes, offices, college campuses and other community areas. From Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to mass shootings across America, social media has played a significant role with exchanging information. This blog post will focus on how social media can benefit us in crisis situations.

1.     Reach a massive audience

a. Inform neighboring townships and counties of what to expect with storms and emergencies that may be heading for their community

b. Send pictures and updates to local news studios to share with viewers

2.     Send and receive emergency alerts

a. Law enforcement can send texts and messages online to local community groups on social media

b. Online users can take and submit pictures of suspects at-large to local online groups to warn families and residents

3.     Monitor conversations

a. Government agencies can monitor discussions and immediately respond to growing inquiries and concerns in the neighborhood

b. Local residents can start conversations about concerns and initiate a town hall meeting circuit in the community to address concerns

4.     Real-time situation updates

a. Residents can share pictures of storm travel patterns

b. Local police can share real-time updates of a suspect’s arrest to inform residents that a crisis situation is over

5.     Communicate with Emergency Personnel

a. If power lines are down, online users can login and report power outages to local authorities

b. If a shooter is moving in a specific direction, then online users can use their phones to post or text where a suspect is moving to warn others

6.     Social Media complements, not replaces, other channels

a. Online users can build on discussions and share new tips and strategies to prepare for a crisis

b. It’s cost-effective to post online rather than pay for printing ads and brochures to inform residents of how to prepare for emergencies

7.     Shelter notifications

a. Emergency personnel can post where shelters are located to allow neighbors to evacuate as quickly as possible

b. Local authorities can post what roads are safe and what routes are available to expedite evacuations.

8.   Safety tips provided by law enforcement agencies

a. Local authorities can post video presentations to limit marketing costs about how to respond in a crisis situation

b. Law enforcement can offer tips to people about how to protect yourself from criminals, predators and how to respond while a terrorist attack is in progress

9.     Provide anonymous tips to law enforcement

a. Online users can reach law enforcement to report a crime anonymously via messaging.

b. Build trust between the police and the community

In 2016, online users check social media for news updates regarding a crisis situation in progress. Law enforcement agencies and rescue personnel rely on community groups and individuals to post pictures, videos and comments. In return, community groups and individuals expect emergency personnel to keep them posted about latest updates and how the public can better prepare for the next crisis. It’s a new information age where the government can connect individuals and groups to emergency and safety services.