Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
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Gary Audin | July 26, 2012 |


Google Gives a Boost to Social Media During Crisis

Google Gives a Boost to Social Media During Crisis Social media will not solve all the problems. It can, however, help to react more quickly and help direct the right resources to mitigate the disaster.

Social media will not solve all the problems. It can, however, help to react more quickly and help direct the right resources to mitigate the disaster.

Social media has the power to organize the response to disasters, including those that affect the enterprise, its employees and customers. Disasters such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the cholera outbreak in Haiti have all influenced how enterprises and governments respond. Social media can be used to provide vital real time information on the disaster, recovery efforts, and the extent of the disaster's effect.

Most people think of the human element of a disaster. However, the Japanese earthquake had a significant impact on NEC's operations in Japan. The Thailand floods affected disc manufacturers. So knowing what is happening accurately and in real time can provide vendors, service providers, and their customers with the knowledge to formulate alternate plans. They can also estimate what impact the disaster will have on their operations and the length of time required to mitigate the effects.

Some of the social media capabilities are:

* Sharing photos of missing personnel
* Sharing photos of affected facilities
* Satellite photos of the affected area
* Detailed maps of the disasters and the relationship to a vendor's, provider's and customer's facilities to the disaster
* Government alerts that would affect operations and access to the facilities
* Alternate communications paths when the primary paths fail

Google has responded to these events by developing the Google Crisis Response (GCR). This is a set of assets that a wide range of people can access for information and post online. There are often inaccurate reports of the disaster. The large number of people using social media can help weed out the inaccuracies.

The Google Crisis Response team assesses the severity and scope of the disaster. The relevant tools for the situation can be used to determine whether and how to respond.

Google responses might include:

* Creating a resource page with emergency information and tools
* Launching Google Person Finder to connect people
* Posting a Crisis Map that has authoritative and crowd-sourced geographic information

Google Public Alerts is a platform for distributing emergency messages such as evacuation notices for hurricanes, and everyday alerts such as storm warnings. Google shows relevant weather, public safety and earthquake alerts from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) by searching on Google Maps.

Google is seeking feedback on its efforts by providing the "Feedback" links on alert details pages and on

The Google Crisis Map is an online map that displays many types of geographic information. This can include storm paths, shelter locations, and power outages from a variety of sources, including official and user-generated content.

The Google Crisis Management template provides a structure for creating and posting an effective Business Continuity Plan, Crisis Team, Telephone Tumble, Risk Assessment, Emergency Contact Numbers, Contacts and more.

Google Person Finder is a Web application that can be used to connect an organization's management and its employees to each other following a disaster. Google Person Finder is usually launched when there are large numbers of missing people and traditional communication lines are down.

Person Finder is an open source web application that provides a registry and message board for those affected by a natural disaster to post and search for information about each other's status and location. It was created by volunteer Google engineers in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

These Google initiatives are the best example to show that response to a disaster can be initiated from nearly anywhere on the globe through the use of social media. Enterprises and their vendors and providers should work together so that the response can be planned for, rather than reacting after the fact.

Social media will not solve all the problems. It can, however, help to react more quickly and help direct the right resources to mitigate the disaster.

Sample Crisis Response Page for Japan's Earthquake


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