“Chico PD has alerted campus to be on the lookout for a male who may be approaching campus with a gun. Please call 911 if you see this person we will send further information as available. Thank you.”
Thousands of Chico State students received that exact message on Sept. 7, 2016. These types of emergency situations happen all the time, but until it occurs in your personal life, you will never be sure how to deal with it. At Chico State, many students did what they normally do, they picked up their phones and hopped on social media.
Social media is one of the biggest pieces of our daily lives, we reach for our phones and computers in any and all situations. As a global society we face crisis on a daily basis.
Our ability to connect with a greater network of people has changed the way we handle these situations, we are not only able to quickly alert a mass amount of people, we can get live updates as the situation unfolds, and even check in to let our loved ones know we are safe. Take a look at how social media has changed the way that we handle a large scale crisis.
On Oct. 15, 2014 Facebook released its Safety Check tool, it was inspired by people turning to Facebook in times of global and domestic crisis to check on their friends and loved ones.
The tool well asses if you are in an area of risk when something like an earthquake, tsunami or a shooting occurs. Safety Check was activated for the first time in the USA, soon after the Orlando Night Club shooting occurred June, 2016. Residents of the area, or even those who had indicated that they were in the Orlando area could check in to let their friends and family know that they were safe.
Safety Check can also pick up local crisis, for example a shooting occurred in Chicago on July 28th of this year, because so many people posted about the incident Facebook created a local Safety Check so that residents of the smaller area could check in with each other.
Twitter has become one of the fastest news sources in the world. In the 2011 earthquake in Virginia, Tweets that an earthquake occurred reached New York City before the aftershocks did. Twitter literally moved and reported faster than an earthquake.
Keeping in line with the quickness of reporting is the Moments feature where users are able to stay up to date with the continuous stream of news. Moments compiles news and content relating to the event into one place.
In addition to Moments, Twitter has become a tool that allows people like scientists, insurance companies, etc., to track the severity of the damage that a natural disaster has caused. Twitter has been able to help with this in a cheaper and more effective way than even some FEMA models.
Emergency Personnel have taken notice of the effect and convenience of social media during a crisis and have began to include it in their emergency preparedness plans.
Using Facebook to update which roads are closed during snow storms, warning people to stay away from certain areas in the event of an active shooter situation or getting any type of information out quickly and effectively to a large number of people. Social media has become a crucial tool on the belt of those we look to in times of emergency.
Though we joke about social media taking over our lives slowly, there is the argument that in a lot of ways it can make our lives better. These tools and features are just a few of the many ways social media has become an integral part of our lives, and simply serve as a helpful aid to a future of emergency and disaster management.
Written by Cheyenne Cameron-Pruitt, General Manager