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27 October 2011

Crisis Commons, Social Networking And The Earthquake In Turkey

I wrote a blog a few days ago about Crisis Commons and the role of other Volunteer Technical Communities in major disasters.  When you put skilled, technical volunteer programmers and software developers together with disaster relief needs – you get some pretty amazing stuff.
Here is the Crisis Commons Wiki page and the Google PersonFinder page.  This might not be a disaster on the order of Haiti, but the differences  between this earthquake and the one back in 1999 - because of the presence of social networking and Volunteer Technical Communities like Crisis Commons - is pretty astounding.  It is contrasted pretty well in a TIME blog today by Pelin Turgut, their Turkey correspondent.
"The last devastating earthquake Turkey experienced was in 1999, back when it was still largely an analogue world, email was in its infancy and Mark Zuckerberg was just another high school dreamer. As a reporter I had to lug a satellite phone around to dictate bleak daily missives from disaster-stricken western Turkey (20,000 people had died, entire avenues were wiped out) because there was no other means of communication. Official relief took days to arrive. And when it did, it was often inadequate and poorly planned.
"Contrast that to yesterday's disaster. Hours after a 7.2 earthquake struck Van, in eastern Turkey, technologies whirred into motion that would have been unimaginable back then. Google has already reconfigured the person-finding tool it used in Haiti and Chile, allowing people to both request and post information about the safety of loved ones missing in the rubble. (Their system is currently tracking some 2,000 records.) Hashtags like #van, #deprem (earthquake in Turkish) trended instantly, and are being tweeted hundreds of times per second as people share information on how to help and what to donate. Groups like the Red Crescent (the Turkish equivalent of the Red Cross) and AKUT, a search-and-rescue organization have enabled one-click SMS donation services. On Facebook, users share updated information on aid requests – winter clothing, insulin, diapers — as filed by people on the ground in Van and have started pages listing bus and freight companies that are delivering aid packages free of charge."
There are also stories about people being rescued because they could tweet where they were in the rubble.  Just another example of how fast and widespread the world is changing because social networking is radically altering how we communicate ...

-  Valerie Lucus-McEwen - Emergency Management