You are hereThe Internet To The Rescue / Reply to comment

Reply to comment


The Internet To The Rescue

By Chris Gomez - Posted on 01 March 2010

The world watched in shock as Chile was hit by an earthquake 800 times stronger than the one in Haiti -- and it happened even before the sun went up. But while governments around the world scrambled to get moving, social media was already saving lives.

It's amazing what social media can do where traditional media and emergency methods often fall short. While we commend the Chilean people for building strong buildings and having solid disaster control methods in place, we can't help but notice how social media platforms such as Twitter quickly began putting things together again.

Case in point: Sheryl Breuker, who yesterday shared her personal story with Mashable.com. Her sister-in-law was in Santiago, Chile when the earthquake struck, and there was no way of getting in touch with her. Most communication lines were cut. But a vital line to the Internet stayed on, so they began contacting locals via Twitter.

Sure enough, just a couple of hours later, a number of locals found Sheryl's sister-in-law, safe and sound. And I'm pretty sure she wasn't the only missing person that Twitter helped track down.

Similarly, Facebook users around the Pacific rim stayed up late that night, tracking the resulting tsunami threat and relaying information hours before their respective government agencies did. Google also launched their "Chile Earthquake Finder" service, allowing users to choose between "I'm looking for someone" and "I have information about someone."

There wasn't much damage caused by the tsunami, but seeing how coastal communities all over the Pacific rim responded by evacuating quickly and systematically made me feel like a proud father.

Social media's role doesn't stop there -- now that Chile is picking up the pieces, heroes all over the world are sending money, aid, and manpower. And I have little doubt that social media is going to play yet another big role when the next natural disaster rolls around.

And I'm also pretty sure that the conservatives will be sitting in their sofas bitching at their TV's every time they see their heads of state offer aid to Chile. They'll still be saying, "Why help Chile? Chile will never help us back! Stop sending aid!"

Oh, let them be idiots. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue using today's tools to help make the world a little better than yesterday -- as they were meant to.

Reply

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.