The collapse of traditional channels of communication in Haiti has again highlighted the role of social media and the internet in disasters.
Twitter is being used as a prime channel for communications, while sites such as Ushahidi are providing maps detailing aid and damage.
Both Google and Facebook are producing missing persons lists.
Satellite networks are also diverting resources to provide communications to aid agencies and the military.
The very first images to escape from the region after Tuesday’s earthquake came from citizens, capturing video with mobile phones.
But landlines near the epicentre have been wiped out, and mobile phone service has been at best intermittent – a fact that has already hampered rescue efforts.
The UN body Telecoms Sans Frontieres, which maintains a network of telecommunications engineers and mobile equipment worldwide, has deployed two teams in the region. The World Food Programme operates a similar service .
“When we arrive in the country, we establish a telecoms centre for the humanitarian community, for them to be able to communicate and have access to internet and phone,” said Telecoms Sans Frontiere’s Catherine Sang.
“We also operate a humanitarian calling operation for the population, so they can call their family and friends in the country or abroad,” she told BBC News.
Ms Sang said that the teams have as yet been unable to set up the network for the general populace due to security concerns.
Inmarsat, a UK-based firm that operates a network of satellites, received word from the UN just an hour after the initial quake, and has begun re-allocating satellite time to the region.
For those with satellite-enabled equipment – namely aid agencies and the military – such extra capacity is vital when traditional communication channels have been damaged or cut off altogether.
However, for the ordinary people in the worst-affected areas of Haiti, as well as loved ones desperate for information about them, the most relevant sources of information are civilians on the ground with some familiar technological tools at their disposal.
Just seconds after the earthquake, people began to send messages from Haiti through Twitter.
The Latest on: Social media and the internet in disasters
2018 Digital Counties Survey Recognizes Leaders in Efficiency, Collaboration and Disaster Response Initiatives
on July 11, 2018 at 10:05 am
Facebook, Twitter and other social media were used and continue to be strong tools. Dutchess County, N.Y. (250,000-499,999 population category): The county made progress with shared services, cloud-ba... […]
Social media unites lawyers to help those in need
on January 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm
Brown also posted for help on TL, the Texas Lawyers page on Facebook. In a flash, 38 members of that fast-growing social media community signed up, and she had enough volunteer lawyers. Hurricane Harv... […]
What Happens to the Internet After a Disaster?
on October 31, 2017 at 9:46 am
In a networked world, stage one of disaster recovery is, well, recovering the network. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a familiar narrative arc unfolded across my Twitter timeline: outr... […]
How AI might help rescuers use social media in a disaster
on September 26, 2017 at 10:37 am
It's a good example of the role social media plays in getting crucial information to people affected by natural disasters. And of course, as we've seen in recent weeks, social media is also used by pe... […]
Why social media apps should be in your disaster kit
on September 8, 2017 at 11:04 pm
But in our view, friends and social media platforms reachable by phone are equally important, because they could be lifesavers. In past disasters around the world, our research has shown that the actu... […]
Disaster in the age of social media
on August 30, 2017 at 1:43 am
In recent years, the social media platform ... more than a million users from an internet service provider in an attempt to identify people active in a protest against the president. However, at this ... […]
Hurricane Harvey shows benefits, risks of turning to social media in disaster
on August 27, 2017 at 5:00 am
Two years before the release of the first iPhone, internet access on mobile devices ... of Disney characters visiting children throughout the disaster area.” “In 2005, we didn’t have social media, so ... […]
Internet censorship bill would spell disaster for speech and innovation
on August 3, 2017 at 7:17 pm
Section 230 laid the groundwork for the explosion in U.S. internet business that’s taken place over the past two decades. Think of how many websites or services you use host third-party content in som... […]
Floods in Sri Lanka: Government responsible for another social disaster
on June 4, 2017 at 10:46 pm
Last week, the working people of Sri Lanka ... the flood disaster will increase the widespread anger among the masses. Working people, urban and rural, are already coming into struggle against the gov... […]
‘Disaster’ Fyre Festival likened to ‘that alien movie in South Africa’ on social media
on April 28, 2017 at 6:20 am
barley any food or water or security or electricity pic.twitter.com/jHPMnJw5gx Ultimately, the festival was less than impressive for those on the ground, and a disaster for the organisers on social me... […]
via Google News and Bing News