It’s tragic what happened during Monday’s Boston Marathon. All of our hearts and prayers go out to everyone involved. One of the things that truly touches all of us is how people are naturally wired to help others. When something tragic happens it is in our DNA to want to care for those around us and that was shown on Monday when seconds after the first bomb exploded volunteers where immediately running to the scene to care for those injured.
But within minutes of everything that was happening I received several alerts on my iPhone from various news apps that I have installed. As I visited various news websites I could tell that the story was still developing as each website only had a paragraph or two detailing the situation. So I decided to visit Twitter and I searched on the hashtag #bostonmarathon and quickly saw many tweets about the situation. I saw photos, videos, people asking for prayers and people commenting on the situation. Through Twitter I was able to get a much better understanding of the situation going on in Boston.
Earlier today I spoke with a friend and we got into a conversation about
[tweet_quote] how social media could help with emergency situations.[/tweet_quote] The original thought was to allow people to upload photos of a situation to a specified location so emergency officials have various vantage points to view. But we quickly realized that would be difficult for people to adopt. We then realized that people already broadcast emergency situations out already via Twitter and create hashtags around the emergency such as #prayforboston.
Could the Emergency Broadcast System or local emergency crews adopt Twitter as a means to broadcast messages? Could events publicize an emergency hashtag indicating “In the event of an emergency use #EMBoston (for example)”? I don’t know if this could work and I foresee a system like this being abused. But, for example, if people prank call into 911 wouldn’t they get in trouble with the police? Maybe if people abuse an emergency hashtag then that too has legal ramifications.
Could the Emergency Broadcast System build a relationship with Twitter so that when there are situations in a certain geographic area those people, who are registered in that city, get direct notifications and where they can go to for help.
At the end of the day I am not sure if something like this would work. Although there are many obstacles around it potentially being abused it could have potential to help those in emergency situations.