Hurricane Preparedness Week: Social Media's Role in Disaster Response

In today's rapidly advancing technology and innovation environment, social media is a critical component of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. As social media's growth and popularity continues, citizens and first responders alike can receive timely information during severe weather events. Tools that aggregate social media content present an opportunity for first responders to monitor critical infrastructure operations, and identify high-damage areas and people in need in real-time during an incident. 

Private and public sector organizations also have the ability to quickly share information with the citizens and customers they serve via social media. Certain social media applications, including those used by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), allow select public safety and emergency organizations to provide up-to-date alerts on unfolding events. With more than 179 million users on various social media networks across the US, leveraging these platforms enhances emergency notification and response capabilities.

After Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012, Twitter users had sent more than 20 million tweets related to the storm. Several New Jersey organizations and service providers used social media to provide citizens the locations of vital resources, such as generators. Throughout the course of the storm government agencies, key response stakeholders and citizens took advantage of these social media tools, many for the first time. FEMA's 2015 National Preparedness Report (NPR) showed organizations across disciplines began incorporating social media technology in their emergency preparedness posture—highlighting the growth of social media as a tool to rapidly assess disaster-related damage, and share information to large groups of people during an emergency. 

June 1 marks the beginning of Atlantic hurricane season, and forecasters have predicted average activity. As the start of the season gets closer, federal, state, and local emergency management personnel will advocate for community preparedness through efforts like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Preparedness Week. In the event of a hurricane, social media can be used to improve situational awareness, enable early warning systems, assess damage, and coordinate relief efforts. For the latest information on hurricane preparation, follow OEM at @ReadyNJ.

Resources

Before a Hurricane or Tropical Storm Strikes 

When a Hurricane or Tropical Storm is Approaching

After a Hurricane or Tropical Storm – Returning Home



For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at Preparedness@njohsp.gov.