In an emergency, rumours and misinformation can make the difference between an informed public and a panicked one. Madeleine Redfern, the mayor of Iqaluit, uses social media to ensure her community has the correct information they need in emergency situations. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow Mayor Redfern to disseminate timely updates and encourage two-way communication in a way that traditional media can’t provide.

Mayor Redfern realizes that some information can’t wait for a press release or news conference to be picked up by mainstream media. The number of Canadians participating in online communities is growing rapidly with 64% of Canadians participating in online communities and 84% of users participating a few times a week. Users are actively sharing important information with their online networks, helping to spread information across communities faster.

Mayor Redfern relies on the popularity of social media and its ability to spread information quickly in order to dispel rumours and provide her community with information critical to their wellbeing. Following a recent water pipeline incident, Redfern was able to warn her community and inform them of a water boil advisory put into place.

Using social media to educate and inform her community benefits the entire Iqaluit community. The community know that in an emergency, they can rely on alerts and updates from their mayor to provide information to help them safe. In a recent study conducted by the Canadian Red Cross, 1/3 of Canadians indicated they would opt to receive information about emergencies through electronic means. For more information about the survey click here.