The Internet and mobile technology played a key role in the relief and rescue operations during the massive flooding in the Philippines. The one that stood out the most though was the “organized” effort on Twitter. Using the hashtags #reliefPH and #rescuePH, netizens suddenly came alive and jumped into action. It started with information dissemination, which then became a rescue operation thanks to a Google Document that compiled all rescue requests. Suddenly everyone was using the same hashtags! Whoa. What happened?
How did it all happen?
I know that the temptation here is to say that Twitter and Google are the heroes, and that social media paved the way for all the rescue and relief operations. The truth of the matter though is that social networking sites are just tools. The real heroes of the story are the people who put those tools to good use.
Here’s how I saw it pan out on Twitter.
As you can see at the end of the day it all boiled down to collaboration, teamwork, and trust. Citizens who were social media savvy had an idea, the government picked it up and gave it more “ooompph!”, and then the media outlets ran with it giving more exposure, and then BOOM… more and more started participating.
By the way, let’s not also forget about one particularly important group of people in this scenario. The people who actually used that list and went out in the rain and rescued people and delivered relief goods. The people who gave donations. The people who packed those donations.
As long as people are open to collaboration and teamwork, tools like social networking sites will thrive in the midst of disasters.
We need a comprehensive disaster social media strategy for the PH…
And I nominate Usec. Manolo Quezon III and MMDA’s Atty. Yves Gonzales to spearhead the creation of that document. Go go go Mr. Explainer and Mr. PCOS Machine!.