Social Media, Smartphones and Sandy
Superstorm Sandy tore through the Northeast, leaving in its wake casualties, damaged homes and devastated communities. People are still without power as they work to put together their lives.
The destruction and lack of power disrupted many forms of communication, including television, radio and newspapers. One medium that ultimately saved lives was social media with the assistance of smartphones.
Social media, accessible via mobile devices, was able to provide vital information during and after the storm. Twitter, for example, provided free promoted crisis tweets from FEMA and the Red Cross that stayed on the top of all Twitter feeds for easy reference. Twitter published a blog post hours before the storm with a list of recommended Twitter handles – elected officials, news sources, power companies – to follow for real-time Sandy-related information.
This type of communication is great during a natural disaster. But like everything else, you still need some sort of power to keep working. Without electricity to charge the phone, your external mobile communication will only go so far.
But with the help of cell phone carriers such as AT&T & Verizon, mobile users have been able to visit generator-driven charging stations and RVs to “juice” up their cell phones. With this “borrowed power,” the communication lines have stayed open, allowing life-saving care and the process of recovery to move forward.
Quite literally, this also shows the power of social media, even in natural disasters.