Online social networking sites could solve many problems plaguing information dissemination and communications when disaster strikes
according to a report from US researchers in a recent issue of the International Journal of Emergency Management.
In the wake of natural, disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, major events, such as the Hudson plane crash, and terrorist activity, online services, have become increasingly prominent as useful tools to get the news out faster than traditional media, to provide timely information sources, and even to re-connect people affected directly or indirectly as events unfold.
But, are social networking tools, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and ad hoc sites set up in the wake of a major event really useful tools or are they simply riding a publicity wave?
According to Connie White, of the Institute for Emergency Preparedness at Jacksonville State University in Alabama and colleagues there and at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, online social networks permit the establishment of global relationships that are domain related or can be based on some need shared by the participants. They have investigated whether or not the social network paradigm can be used to enable individuals and organizations to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways, in all stages of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
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