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Social Media in the Face of Disaster Response

Author: Randall D. Larson

Date: 2016-04-19
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In a recent blog posted yesterday by Eric Holdeman at, the author contrasts two distinct types of emergency managers.  “One set has decided to implement the use of social media into their emergency management functions,” Holdeman wrote, “and the second set have said, ‘No thank you, and since no one is demanding it, I can coast and not do anything.’" In today's information age, Holdeman asserts, the  latter group is destined to fail, especially considering the demands of citizens and the media when something does happen.

To validate his allegation, Holdeman cites an infographic (embedded below) developed by the University of San Francisco. The infographic compares emergency management in four major disasters - the 2010 Haiti earthquake (which was the first widespread use of Twitter during a disaster*), Japan’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Hurricane Sandy on the US East Coast io 2012, and an average US tornado season.

“The other thing that can be disturbing to both sets of emergency managers I outlined above are the public's expectations, also outlined in the infographic for response agencies to receive requests for assistance via social media from citizens,” adds Holdeman. “Just saying ‘We don't do that’ will not ring well when others in the nation are grappling with how to accomplish this. These are challenging times and they require people and agencies to go beyond budgets and staffing levels to find solutions.”

(Follow hyperlinks above to original posts of both Holdeman’s article and the USF infographic. Click on image at right to upload the full-size infographic from USF site)

* That event is now six years in our rearview mirror, so don't think you are being cutting edge if you have established a Facebook page that is basically static,” noted Halderman.

- People, Places & Things/ (via and, 4/18/16)












































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