Dispelling rumours and saving dogs: how we used the web in the floods
What a week for Australia it’s been! With the west coast on fire and the east coast under water (top to bottom!), it seems hardly important to talk about web technology. But that’s exactly what the country’s been looking at all week! With the #qldfloods tag on Twitter, community photo gathering on Facebook, live webcams to watch the water rising, and simple online news streaming, the web has been keeping us together for the past few days.
The instantaneous nature of the web has so far proven itself vital in disasters around the world, if at least for raising awareness and rapid communication. I hope we all remember the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti and the recent flooding in Pakistan!
In particular, it was very encouraging to see the authorities, big media and other groups get involved online as well. We’ve already blogged about how the Queensland Police Service used Twitter & Facebook, but The Courier Mail, ABC News and Brisbane Times were also active, to name a few, as well as government bodies (like BCC) and politicians and groups like Volunteering Qld.
It’s so important for these groups to be involved to help dispel the inevitable misinformation and rumours! It also means they can disseminate their important messages as quickly as possible, and in the place where everyone is watching.
Personally, one of the biggest effects I saw from social media in the last few days was on the lives of animals during the flood crisis. It seemed to me that Twitter and Facebook played a massive role in highlighting the plight of animals, disseminating tips to help them, and organising their rescue, whether they were racing horses, livestock or pets at a shelter.
I can only hope that the web will also provide the opportunity to keep the ongoing effects of the floods on everyone’s minds, so that this doesn’t become another disaster so easily forgotten.