The Benefits & Issues of Social Media use in case of emergencies: Christchurch Earthquakes

posted 31 Mar 2011, 03:34 by Jess Maher   [ updated 13 Apr 2011, 08:19 ]

Depending on the context and obstacles of any given 'natural disaster' type emergency, it has been proven over and over again that sometimes in today's world, our channels & contacts in social media have been more help even more so than the rescue efforts traditionally relied upon by official bodies & the likes of USR trained rescuers.

An experiment in social media integration in an Event/Production Management process, intrinsically the connection makes sense.. The need to co-ordinate and share a message is particularly inherent. As so does the nature of social media forums when the need for sharing information becomes more critical, even life threatening.. Such as in the event of a natural disaster.

I have been blogging about the earthquakes in Christchurch for a while now, particularly on the use and application of new medias to assist the unfortunate trapped in these situations. So when the opportunity presented itself to again be involved with something that supported both the cause and what I know to be true about social media, despite any reasonable & valid hesitations or concerns, I somewhat foolishly maybe, jumped on it.  

The 'Christchurch Earthquake Benefit Concert - AUCKLAND' was a Facebook event listing started by John Paul Moss, a local events producer who started a company called, Velvet Productions. Being the severity of the recent February earthquake in Christchurch and the anxiety generally among many New Zealanders in it's wake, the event played somewhat on the generosity of Kiwis. There were comments long standing on the event listing of people confirming attendance of the event but not being able to attend logically for whatever reasons (living far away, they aren't going etc).

Despite the over 16,000 confirmed individuals recorded on the original Facebook event listing, ultimately the event was cancelled due to a lack in ticket sales.. (the full press statement can be found on scribd) Also ironic was the media attention and even general awareness of the events existence after the statement of it's cancellation had gone out. Not only were the news organizations prepared to cover a story which featured the event after it's demise but ingoring all prior attempts on our behalf to advise them of the event or even it's existence, but going to the effort to seek out information.

The event dfd not go ahead. There has been ongoing talk about the possibilty of reschduking and several other events occured on a smaller scale which weher discussed and publicised on the exsisting event listing page, which ironically has seen more tyraffic and response in the timne since cancelling the even than it has in the prior time I have been involved. It is assumed that the events increased views must prioritise it in the mini feeds for some users.