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Intervention – Measurestaken immediately before andduring a flood event: Social Media

Social media provided an important communication channel in the floods of 2013. In 2002, those channels did not yet exist and dedicated official resources for intervention, as well as volunteers, were found through traditional communication channels. This dramatically changed with the advent of instant messaging, social media channels and smart phones. Facebook, Twitter and other services were used to ask for help, or often to spontaneously organize assistance and volunteers. Despite good intentions, this sometimes overwhelmed those directing helpers and caused some resentment and friction. Local and regional authorities need dedicated communication concepts for social media channels. There needs to be awareness that volunteers wanting to help during an event can turn from assets into liabilities if things go wrong (in situations where they are not needed, for example, or when they get in harm’s way, or start working outside the perimeters of coordinated response, etc.). Social and web-based mass media are great for directing information flows on a large scale, and accessing crowds of people, but they need to be very carefully managed. People managing this aspect of relief need to be well trained.

PERC Reports