Social media isn’t going anywhere. As social media changes the world we live in, disaster responders are finding ways to use it to improve emergency response. The Red Cross is using social media’s ability to disseminate updated information in real-time in their response to Hurricane Sandy.
Twitter recently announced that it had tracked 20 million tweets with the terms “Sandy” or “hurricane” between October 27 and November 1.
According to Twitter, tweets mentioning the Red Cross also increased 30 times the normal amount! On Monday evening around 9 pm, Twitter mobile usage in New York also peaked, serving at times as a vital source of information for affected residents.
Facebook has seen an increase in usage as well, with discussion of Hurricane Sandy ranking an 8.34 on the "Talk Meter" which measures overall discussion of an event. By way of comparison, this year's Superbowl ranked just slightly above at 8.62 and the Presidential Debate rang in at 8.18 on the scale, making Hurricane Sandy the second most talked about event on Facebook this year by October 30th. According to Facebook, the term "we are okay" was the most popular term used by Facebook users in the U.S. as people turned to social media to let their loved ones know they are safe.
The American Red Cross is using its social channels to share the locations of mobile food trucks and relief supplies and digital volunteers are working hard to respond to questions about finding a shelter or food truck. Since many in New York and New Jersey are still without power in their homes, social media has provided a platform to reach people who are in need of important information.