The State of Emergency goes Digital – University of Copenhagen

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15 September 2014

The State of Emergency goes Digital

“After the torrential rain, which laid the Copenhagen underwater a little over a week ago, it is again clear that extreme weather and flooding is a problem, we will increasingly have to deal with. In Germany they are just now beginning to draw lessons from last year's major flood, where the Elbe and Danube rivers burst their banks. Among the many questions that have arisen, one especially stands out from the others: What role should and could social media play in emergencies?

About a year ago, Daniel Neumann stood on the banks of the Elbe in Dresden, and realized that the river would soon rise to a critical level. That evening, the 2nd of June, 2013, he started a Facebook group called 'Fluthilfe Dresden'. The idea was to create a digital platform where people could share information about the floods, while they took place. It succeeded. Monday morning the site only had 45 followers, but that same evening the number had risen to 12,000, and Wednesday it peaked at over 60,000 followers. In just three days, Daniel had established a network of citizens in size equivalent to about a tenth of Dresden's total population. The network would prove to have a central role in the fight against the floods."

"Authorities around the world, from America to the Philippines, have for years put a lot of resources into harnessing the opportunities offered by Facebook and Twitter. Humanitarian relief organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations are also very active on this issue. Social media gives namely people the opportunity to share information about damage, search for missing and organize collections of donations at an unprecedented scale. "

Kristoffer Albris in Politiken September 7th, 2014: “Social media makes us ready for disaster” / “Sociale medier gør os klar til katastrofen”.