The 6.7 magnitude Earthquake which struck Nepal only 3 days ago, and although relatively small on the Richter Scale, it’s impact is great. With an estimated possible 10,000 people being killed from direct impacts such as houses falling, and many more expected to die from indirect effects such as waterborne diseases and lack of shelter and basic hygiene/sanitation. Although the impacts of it are serious, I want to focus upon the technological side of it, and what Google and Facebook has done.
After the earthquake, Facebook’s safety check tool appeared on everyone’s NewsFeed. It not only allows you to tick whether you are safe, but identified how many people are in the affected area from your friends list and which of these are marked as ‘safe’. It’s the first real widespread use of social media in a different way than just uploading pictures of meals and nights out.
Google took a much different approach, joining in with the Red Cross. They involved collating those who had been officially found and could therefore be registered as missing or alive, however had significantly less data than that of Facebook, which had the ability to reach out to a much wider audience than that of Google, which tracked around 7,000 people.
This technology could change the future for reactions to disasters. If there had been a disaster whether a large-scale one such as an Earthquake or a small-scale such as German-Wings plane crash this year (way too many fatalities this year already), the public awareness and reassurance that family members or friends are safe is very important. Obviously I am not arguing that authorities and governors should focus on people updating their Facebook status rather than sending and improving immediate and continuous medical aid, however I feel it is part of our development in natural disaster reactions.
Could this be the start of even more networking developments to aid disaster zones?