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Tweet, tweet…HELP! Is there anybody out there?

Sep 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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LOOKING AHEAD: Red Cross website details its new Emergency Social Data Society.

Luckily, no Christchurch residents had to tweet for rescue – because it took almost 90 minutes after Saturday’s earthquake for civil defence to activate its own social media.

Tweets from residents just after the 4.35am earthquake were picked up by social and news media around the world.

The first tweet uncovered in a search by NewsWire was: “CRAZY earthquake in #Christchurch this morning! That got me out of bed faster than any alarm-clock.” 4:59 AM Sep 4th via Chromed Bird

At 6am, civil defence used Twitter to direct followers to its website.

This reactive use of social media mirrors international research into the Haiti earthquake in January.

Tweets for help from beneath the rubble of the Haiti earthquake exposed the cracks in the emergency services system, according to the  American Red Cross.

The gap between technology and the disaster response brought governments, organisations, experts and citizens together at the Emergency Data Summit in Washington last month to address how action to digital cries for help can be more effective.

The summit heard there was no co-ordinated response to listen to tweets or to getting personnel out who could help.

Reports of people using social media in disasters have increased and the unprecedented use during the Haiti earthquake prompted the American Red Cross to conduct a survey on the use of social media in disasters and emergencies.

According to the survey 20% of participants said they would use e-mail, internet websites or social media if they needed help during an emergency and weren’t able to make a telephone call.

Significant results in the survey are that 69% of those using social media think emergency services are monitoring the sites during the disaster and 75% expect help to come in less than an hour.

Early reports from the conference suggest most are already using social media, but like New Zealand Civil Defence only to send information out to the public rather than bring it in and analyse it.

The reports say finding ways to pull in more information and determining what information requires action are two of the many challenges emergency responders face.

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