Social Media Magazine

Feds Contest For ‘Lifelines’ In Health Emergencies

Posted on the 04 September 2011 by Bhasunjaya

The first thing East Coasters did when the ground began to shake this afternoon wasn’t duck under their desks, but to turn to their smartphones. The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that was felt from Durham, N.C., to Toronto was documented instantly through social media like Facebook and Twitter.


The idea is to make it easy for Facebook users to beef up their own preparedness and strengthen their social connections in case something goes really wrong, such as a pandemic or earthquake.

It would also create and share personal preparedness plans, be mobile-device ready, and incorporate a Geographic Information System (GIS) for locating or “tagging.” No mention of batteries or bottled water.

Elmer noticed that during the aftermath of recent disasters, people were turning more to websites like Facebook rather than calling people on their cellphones. “I thought about how we can leverage that kind of behavior,” she said in an interview before the quake. The idea is to reduce pressure on jammed phone lines, since people would use social media sites to reconnect in the event of an emergency.

The HHS Assistant Secretary for ASPR, Dr. Nicole Lurie, said the competition is way for the department to take advantage of emerging social media. “One of the things that is fundamental to a community’s resilience is its connections between people,” she said. “In the end it’s going to be friends and neighbors who are going to help each other out in an emergency situation.”

The CDC still recommends an emergency pack and evacuation plan for earthquakes to zombie attacks, but the addition of a social media-based tool can be a more human approach, according to Elmer

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