Social Media as a Recovery Tool

What do Hurricane Katrina, the cholera outbreak in Haiti, and the tsunami in Japan all have in common? They have helped highlight the efforts of social media in facilitating disaster recovery in those regions. Not only is the use of social media in such crises becoming more commonplace, there have even been apps developed to help reconnect loved ones when disaster strikes.

According to a recent article on, with the development of the Google Crisis Response (GCR) following Hurricane Katrina three major products entered the crisis management arena — Google Public Alerts, Google Crisis Management, and Google People Finder — all of which have been exceptional assets in disaster recovery.

Social media effectively lends itself to the accuracy of information provided during and after a disaster. However, as in all reporting mechanisms, there are still inaccuracies, but as a result of the sheer numbers of people using social media as a communication tool, those same inaccuracies are usually weeded out quickly. Add in the benefit to emergency responders, who can use real time news on social media like Facebook and Twitter to respond to areas where they are needed more quickly.

Social media is a force to be reckoned with, as shown during 2011 in Japan, when following the tsunami, those displaced by the event set up an area to take pictures and post them to Google. This allowed them to reconnect with other family members and let those who were in another country know that they were okay.

As social media improves, so will its ability to give real-time information on recovery efforts and where emergency responders should focus their efforts. It will also allow quicker response, which ultimately promotes a faster and better recovery overall.

For more information about the effects of social media on disaster response and recovery, visit: