Tech Talk: Crowdsourcing during emergencies in Kenya

The 2013 World Disasters Report offers a good study of crowdsourcing and the role of digital volunteers in emergencies.

Many Red Cross societies around the world are exploring how they can crowdsource and communicate information through social media. One of the leaders in this area is the Kenya Red Cross with its iVolunteer program. Check out this video outlining their program.

This virtual community of volunteers is responsible for monitoring social media and encouraging the pubic to share information about emergencies with the Kenya Red Cross, everything from traffic incidents, to fires, flooding and other types of disasters. This information is shared with the Kenya Red Cross Emergency Operations Centre or the local Red Cross branches to allow for a quicker response to emergencies and a better understanding of the needs.

This monitoring also provides insights into trends, statistics and demographics which can be further used to help recruit new donors, volunteers and supporters.

We recently blogged about Kenya Red Cross’ response to the Westgate Mall tragedy. That is only one example of their innovative use of social media in an emergency, specifically using Twitter and Facebook.

Kenya Red Cross also used social media as a way to help connect people with various forms of assistance. During a transit strike last year, they used Twitter and the hashtag #CarPoolKe to link up commuters in need of transportation. The hashtag had an audience of 1.5 million and helped get 6,000 people rides homes.

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