Blogs as Disaster or Emergency Communication Tool

Some attendees at the June 2008 STC conference may recall the session about "Communicating and Creating Training for Disasters and Emergencies" presented by members of the Environmental, Safety, and Health SIG. "How do you write emergency training that will engage people to become prepared when they are apprehensive about their safety?" At the other end of the spectrum is communicating during disasters or emergencies. The popular blog, Lorelle on WordPress, discusses that in a recent post called "Blogs Offer Communication, Information, and Connections During Disasters". This post provides an interesting discussion of how blogs are one way of getting news to the world about an unfolding disaster. Obviously, the infrastructure necessary for this type of communication can be threatened: no electrical or telephone lines, for example. Lorelle shares many tips about coping with that type of situation. She also reports the abuse that, sadly enough, follows in the wake of these disasters. All in all, this post echoes some of the ESH presentation. Could emergency preparedness be communicated through blogs, and could those same blogs act as a lifeline during an emergency, helping to coordinate relief efforts and connecting people and resources? To me, the answer is an obvious yes, but you wouldn't necessarily be able to start doing all these things the very day disaster struck. Planning, as discussed by the ESH SIG, is in order. I'll close this entry with Lorelle's closing thoughts, which sum up the lessons to be learned. I hope you'll add your thoughts in the comments.

For the bloggers living, working, and surviving in disaster areas, they have a lot to teach us about how blogs can help and serve our online community. Those who want to help from outside the impacted areas are learning more about how to integrate multiple media and blog sources into a single aggregator without impinging upon copyrights, creating central clearing houses for news and information. The more we learn about how useful blogs are in a disaster, the more our blogs will improve overall.

2 comments

  1. Lori Gillen

    I am just getting around to responding to this message. Lorelle, I found your information very helpful and am going to pass the link to your entry about blogs as a disaster/emergency communication tool to the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay, Community Disaster Education outreach group. I think they will find your information very useful too.

    The one thought that kept coming up in my head as I read your blog entry was that blogs cannot work when there are power outages (unless someone has a generator) and there are usually so many power outages following disasters. So a blog cannot be the only tool used for communication.

    The other thought that crossed my mind is that the information in blogs can be instrumental for use retrospectively, in a “lessons learned” capacity and as research for future planning.

    Thank you again for sharing your information with our group.

  2. Lorelle

    Thank you for the kind words, and you are right. We have a lot to learn about how social media works, and can work for us in an emergency. It’s great when technology will work for us, not against us.

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