For better or worse, the majority of us are glued to our phones. The apps and social networks on these become a daily component of our lives. It’s where we get our news. It’s how we share our favourite moments. It’s where we communicate with friends, family, and complete strangers. It can be used for recreation, silliness, education, and — more vitally — as a means for communication and assessment when bad things happen.

 

In the middle of a storm, anyone with a camera and a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube account becomes a weatherman for 15 seconds, detailing their “on the ground” perspective of what is happening right in front of them. For those wondering how bad an area is after a flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, it’s easy to start looking over the destruction by searching for specific keywords or hashtags. The immediacy of social networks allows us to see footage from anywhere when a smartphone is nearby.

 

Resources Needed

 

For those in emergency services, it provides priceless intel that helps them see the scale of the destruction as well as determine key resources needed for relief and rescue efforts.  Based on eyewitness reports as well as news agencies reporting on the scene, there is a multitude of free video content showcasing what areas have been impacted as well as public outcries for help.

 

Safety Check-ins

 

Social networks like Facebook have tools that activate if the phone’s location is where an incident has occurred. When people can touch a button that lets others know if they are safe or not, it sheds more light on which areas are worse, how many people have been affected, as well as helping family and friends know they do not need to be rescued or assisted in any way.

 

Donations and Fundraising

 

Whenever there is an incident or disaster, efforts are often started immediately to raise money and/or supplies to help those impacted. Social networks make it easy to make a difference with a simple text or the touch of a button on an app. Do you want to help but are hundreds of miles away? With the press of a button you can start or participate in a fundraiser. All of this is made possible by these networks we spend all day on.

 

Social networks can be so much more than a means of entertainment. They can help us connect to each other to inform and help in times of crisis. With the Internet on your phone, you essentially hold the world in your hand. Why not use that power to aid those when they need us most? These channels can be used to help others, save others, and rebuild after a disaster.