Communication in the Shaky Isles

Many New Zealanders are suffering fear and loss in the wake of Saturday’s earthquake in Canterbury. And the hefty aftershocks are adding to the fear and hindering the recovery; both physical and emotional. As power, water and sewerage have been affected, and roads have been cut off by damage and flooding, one of the most important things anyone needs to be able to do is communicate with the outside world. Obviously television and radio coverage is important but it is interesting to see the different types of media being used to communicate messages of importance to the populace, new technology that certainly wouldn’t have been around  during the Napier earthquake in 1931 or  the Edgecume earthquake in 1987. ‘Social media’, scorned by many as a pointless time sink  becomes useful – moving facebook, twitter et al out of the realm of inane to become a relevant and important tool in a time of crisis. By visiting and searching the hashtag #christchurch you will bring up a real time list of the latest from Twitter about the ‘quake. The most recent posts give links to the most up to date information in interactive map form about what areas have been affected, photos of the damage and links to various blogs and news sources including the Ministry of Civil Defence. This Christchurch Earthquake facebook page has a few photos and a link to the MOE website for school information and there are the ‘I survived the quake let’s party’ and the’ buy a T-shirt Christchurch quake 2010′ type pages – as you would expect, but showing the true value of Facebook has been the ‘Student Volunteer base for Earthquake cleanup‘ event page that has mobilised over 1900 people to sign up and 300 people turn up on the first day to help with the clean up and they have received over 5000 messages of support from all over the world. Now, that is power.

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