How social media can help you in emergencies such as cyclones and bushfires

How social media can help you in emergencies such as cyclones and bushfires

20 October 2011

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Australia — Social media can provide you with important emergency information in the shortest possible time and even allow you to communicate directly with emergency services.
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0ShareSocial media has many advantages for sharing information in an emergency as well as some disadvantages. Its best feature is the speed with which social media can reach its audience. Emergency agencies can broadcast directly to an audience, removing the dependency on traditional media. Receiving emergency advice direct from emergency agencies can increase the trust and responsiveness in the audience. A large amount of specific information can be disseminated to an audience who can access it on demand.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is commonly regarded as a leader in the use of social media during emergencies. This follows their use of Twitter, facebook and Youtube to communicate with the community during flooding and cyclones of the summer of 2010/2011. The value of social media was demonstrated during this time by the exponential increase in the QPS facebook audience to over 170,000 ‘Likes’.

Social media can also place emergency agencies within the public conversation. This can allow agencies to be aware of misinformation and rumours that can take hold and then make corrections. Social media is also used by traditional media organisations to quickly access information from emergency agencies.

The ability for anyone to broadcast or publish their view can make social media a source of misinformation and myths. One way to avoid being misinformed in times of emergency is to monitor trusted emergency and media organisations.

Social media is a great way to stay in touch with emergency situations even when you are away from you local area. And the ability to use social media from mobile devices can help you recieve important information even if you are in the middle of an emergency situation, without power, or away from other forms of communication.

ABC South West WA is your emergency services broadcaster. You can follow us on Twitter and on facebook.

In Western Australia you can follow the Fire and Emergency Service Authority on Twitter at You can follow the Western Australia Police on Twitter at and on facebook at

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