Social media is proving the additional forewarning hazardous weather advisers have been looking for. More and more local weather spotters have started turning up on Facebook and Twitter to warn their Followers and Friends about impending bad weather. As the severity of storms increases the need to alert people as soon as possible has increased. Social media makes that a possibility by giving people a way to communicate a message to a great number of people.
Social media marketers have been doing the same thing, only their messages are geared to consumers looking for the best deals. Same method, different results.
Nobody is going to push the “like” button for a hurricane, but the National Hurricane Center hopes to get some Facebook fans for its storm advisories.
The hurricane center joined the online social network in January to give a behind-the-scenes look at Director Bill Read and hurricane specialists at work well before any storm starts brewing in the tropics.
The new outreach effort comes as the nation’s emergency management chief urges Americans to make social media part of their disaster preparedness plans.
People should know which local agencies disseminate information on Twitter or Facebook, and they should set aside extra batteries or solar chargers so that even in a power outage they can update their status with a simple “I’m OK.”
That can help reduce the volume of phone calls in a disaster-stricken area, leaving vital communication lines open, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate testified May 5 before a Senate subcommittee.
Fugate also urges local emergency managers to develop mobile websites to be viewed on cell phones, so that residents can both receive and contribute real-time updates during a disaster.
“Rather than trying to convince the public to adjust to the way we at FEMA communicate, we must adapt to the way the public communicates by leveraging the tools that people use on a daily basis,” Fugate said.
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