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
- Social media's not all bad – it's saving lives in disaster zones on August 23, 2018 at 7:30 am
Incidents such as Hurricane Sandy in September 2012 have shown how disaster response teams can leverage the "power of collective intelligence" given by social media. Members of the public use these pl... […]
- Female cadets in Kerala counter-disaster; Action against social media mischief on August 10, 2018 at 3:50 am
Thiruvananthapuram: All the police stations in Kerala are battle-ready to carry out disaster-management operations in the ... against the spread of false news and fake alarms through social media. “Su... […]
- Social media unites lawyers to help those in need on January 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm
In a flash, 38 members of that fast-growing social media community signed up ... South Carolina attorneys can volunteer for the South Carolina Bar's disaster relief legal service hotline by filling ou... […]
- Long-term Psycho-social Impact of Natural Disasters on Survivors in Japan on December 25, 2017 at 2:52 am
WKC in collaboration with NCNP is currently implementing a national survey to clarify current known and unknown factors for better psycho-social management after disasters. The results of the survey w... […]
- 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... […]
- People using social media to connect with loved ones, call for help when disaster strikes on September 20, 2017 at 6:45 pm
Phone lines can be down, but the internet is still working ... "It is very smart that before a disaster you agree on the social media platform on the digital means that you're going to connect during ... […]
- The Houston flood disaster: A social crime of the American oligarchy on August 28, 2017 at 10:10 pm
Like Katrina, Hurricane Harvey has lifted the lid on the ugly reality of American society, exposing colossal levels of social inequality, pervasive poverty and ruling class criminality. Behind the min... […]
- Hurricane Harvey shows benefits, risks of turning to social media in disaster on August 28, 2017 at 3:13 pm
The impact of social media on disaster response has not been universally positive ... to stay engaged on social media even as they manage other urgent tasks. “The internet is a wonderful thing for sha... […]
- Internet censorship bill would spell disaster for speech and innovation on August 3, 2017 at 1:07 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... […]
- ‘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