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Tsunami

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Tsunami

Tweet Responsibly

The earthquake was beneath the sea floor off the coast of the Bonin Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Over the course of the next 3 hours after the earthquake, various news and scientific communities analyzed, reported and adjusted their views on whether or not a tsunami was generated and the scope of the risk to the public. The official source and also the best source of information on the Japanese coastline Tsunami watch and warnings as well as observations of the actual waves can be found on the JapanMeteorological Agency website http://www.jma.go.jp/en/tsunami/index.html.

THE RUSH TO TWEET

Look through the tweets below, what would you think? It’s no surprise that some countries scrambled to confirm facts and quell rumors of impacts to their coastlines. Social Media users who are sharing information regarding emerging events need to be cognizant of how their message will be received by others.  Twitter has no geographic boundaries.  Saying Tsunami Warning or no tsunami for the west coast has no value to someone when the location is missing.  Worse than that…someone may assume the message is for their location and it is for another country.

SORTING THROUGH THE NOISE

Imagine you are living in a coastal community somewhere in the world, and you see the following messages in Twitter….

TSUNAMI WARNING ISSUED (link)
Tsunami warning. Seriously no joke. Go listen to the news and stay away from the coast.
TSUNAMI WARNING

Was that helpful?  No?  Let’s see if these help….

1. BREAKING NEWS – Tsunami not expected from 7.4 quake; Japanese Meteorological Agency makes warning for Ogasawara Islands
2. Tsunami Warning. Be careful
3. Japanese Meteorological Association Issues Mild Tsunami Warning #JAPAN #TSUNAMI (link)
4. 7.4 earthquake off Japan’s coast triggered a tsunami warning for remote islands and advisory for so Japan. CNN reports: (link)
5. 7.4 quake hits Japan, tsunami warning issued
6. Earthquake Hits Coast Of Japan, Tsunami Warning Issued
7. Tsunami Information: sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near (continued on link)
8. Tsunami Information: no destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake data. Ho…(continued on link)
9. 7.4 Japan quakeundefinedbut NO tsunami threat for the west coast
10. Tsunami Information (Pacific): no destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami
11. Just checked the PTWC and there’s no Tsunami warning for the Pacific Ocean

TWEETING TIPS

Considering just the choice of words (and not making any assessment on facts) the most effective use of Twitter for communicating this event would be #4.  7.4 earthquake off Japan’s coast triggered a tsunami warning for remote islands and advisory for so Japan. CNN reports: (link).  This message clearly states the location of not only the earthquake but most importantly – the location under the threat of a tsunami warning and an advisory for southern Japan and also includes the source of the information.  Another good one is #3 Japanese Meteorological Association Issues Mild Tsunami Warning #JAPAN #TSUNAMI (link).

Here is a message that fell far short of its desire to educate the public #8. Tsunami Information: no destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake data. Ho…(continued on link) There is no locatio

n information in the message and the most critical piece of information needed by Japan and all of the other countries interested in know about the impact for their coastlines was information that ran over the twitter limit of 140 characters.

Would the name of the twitter user sway your decision on what story to believe?  If the name of the twitter account included the name Tsunami, NOAA, Earthquake, Quake, CNN,

News, or any variation, would that improve your confidence in the information shared? We encourage the public to follow the guidance of their local officials during a disaster.  But some twitter users appear to be official and are not. There are times also when information from official channels is published too slowly to ensure the safety of the public.  When a tsunami wave travels at up to 500 miles an hour and starts only a few miles offshore, there may not be sufficient time to analyze the buoy data and warn the public.

Social Media tools can be very valuable and quite powerful during disaster.  The medium can be used to connect people with needed aid and connect aid agencies with people in need.  Disaster preparedness and response actions can be immediately delivered to thousands and millions of people who are in need. The risk of misleading the public impacted (and the public not impacted) because of this widespread visibility is perhaps equally concerning

The good news is that the tsunami wave generated was small and did not cause damage or loss of life.  The bad news is that the real facts were only confirmed hours after the earthquake and only after the small wave struck the remote islands south of the Japanese mainland.

If you live in a community at risk for a tsunami, connect with your local officials and be sure to have a plan for not only what to do if the threat is imminent but also know how will you be notified that a threat is imminent.  While it can be a powerful life saving source of information, don’t rely on Social Media as your only source of information.

And if you are tweeting disaster information keep in mind the fact that your message will be visible not only by your intended audience, but also by the global community.  Before you tweet, be sure you are providing information that is accurate, pertinent and contains information that will not increase the risk of the safety of the public.  Tweet responsibly.

Humanity Road is a global digital disaster response organization.

Driven by Need, Led by Experience, Powered by Volunteers

We Are Here For You

 
There has been much in the media recently about new technology and how it is helping in times of disaster.  What has gotten little coverage are the people behind the new tools.  Who are these people that use the new technology to help others when disaster strikes?  

Humanity Road, Inc.(c) volunteers actively monitor many disaster alert services including USGS.gov, NOAA.gov, GDACs.org, FEMA.org, Oceanweather.com, Redcross.org, Ready.gov and other Internet based geological, weather and disaster monitoring tools. Our volunteers also monitor mainstream media news reports, News blogs, disaster related conversations and posts made in social networking forums such as @Twitter, Facebook, Google groups, Youtube, Twitpics and other Internet based applications and forums.  We keep in touch with state emergency response agencies and local communities impacted by disaster by reaching them through the Internet.  If this intrigues you, then you are probably a geek like us and will want to visit our Emergency Operations Center at https://humanityroad.wordpress.com/virtual-emergency-operations-center/.

Our volunteers are geo-dispersed, enhancing our ability to respond within minutes of any significant disaster.  And because we train our volunteers on how to identify and confirm facts during chaotic events, our volunteers are able to increase the accuracy of routing true urgent needs situations to the appropriate agencies for response.

After the Haiti and Chile quakes we were inputting urgent incidents into Ushahidi, connecting those who needed aid with those who could provide aid. We work with citizens, federal, state, local and international aid agencies, technology providers, and the general public before, during and after disaster to educate them on where aid is needed and where it can be found.  Yes, we are the disaster geeks who use the tools that you read about in the newspapers and blogs.  Though we do it quietly, efficiently and without fanfare, we want you to know, we are here for you.  Humanity Road, Inc is a 501c3 Tax Exempt Public Charity
Visit us online at www.humanityroad.org

About Our Volunteers

It has been 100 days since the Haiti quake that shook the world.  For many it seems a lifetime. For me it seems like just yesterday. As we make our official debut in the public eye, I would like to take a moment to tell you about the extraordinary efforts of a few very special people who came together during a time of great need to serve others around the world.   There are so many volunteers helping Haiti in countries around the world every day.    Each has a story about why now, why Haiti, why Chile, why Indonesia and why do so many feel the need to help.  I want to take a moment to recognize some very special people who provided the initial foundation for our digital volunteer team.  In 2010, it began in Twitter, and so in light of that, I would like to share with you using their twitter names, the @Twitter volunteers who made significant contribution to laying the foundations of Humanity Road, Inc.

@1staid4 

@Peaceful_Intent 

@Viequesbound   

@Manydrums 

@Kenold

@Icandigit 

@Ladybugsgrama

@Carelpedre

@HeroldC 

@georgeshenry

@BHMHaiti

@dcmitchell

@RVAREGal 

@Christinakr 

@Meira_Davi

@MireleMonte

@Iamvatoni

@Pgwoofado

@HansKirsch

@Twik31

 

Each of these volunteers has put in tremendous hours of their personal effort and resources to help others.  They have been critical in helping to establish a process that will be repeatable in the future to help others.  They have all been a personal inspiration to me in helping provide communications to the general public during times of great need.  I hope you will join me in thanking them for their contribution.  Because of our volunteers, we are here to stay and will continue our efforts to help the world, and your neighborhood, when you need us most.

With my deepest gratitude and respect,

Christine Thompson
President, Humanity Road, Inc.
@Redcrossmom