Technology in Times of Crisis

Navigate. Mobilise. Connect. Update. Share.

From the time you wake up, right up until you fall asleep, you remain deeply wired to the world. Your social media news feed is your window to the world— to the good, bad and the ugly. While you do remain absolutely dedicated to this form of transparency with the world around you, it is the very nature of this relationship you share with the world that urges you to react to the things you so vividly and instantaneously witness.

Gone are the days, where the full coverage of any emergency situations or crisis in one part of the world could only be found out through the front page of newspapers, the next day and on prime time news rush hour channels. Information from around the world is merely a matter of a simple notification away.

With such power, comes a greater responsibility to affect situations, help in time of crisis and most of all, use technology to affect positive change.

In an interview once, Microsoft Disaster Response’s CTO, Tony Surma indicated that innovative technology, must be used as to advance missions of communities around the world that are dedicated to emergency management.

“The role of technology…is to connect, inform and ultimately save the lives of those impacted by disasters. Technology restores connectivity to impacted areas so that governments can communicate with citizens and people can find their loved ones,” he indicated.

Be it Facebook’s ‘I’m Safe’ option for disaster struck places, the viral video footage of sinking car rescue of Louisiana Flooding, the changing of social media profile picture to condemn an event, signing up a petition online on major democratic decisions— all of these are representing an element of technological advancements in a series of real events that we have witnessed over the past year or so. What is more dramatic is the ease with we are able to contribute to crisis situations.

The pressing question however remains, is the use of technology to merely change a profile picture a positive step towards contribution—or is it only a superficial display of concern?

While there are many academic discussions that can continue to take place to testify the “most appropriate” type of contribution in a crisis situation, what should be identified crucially is the advantages that these tech advances bring to the people affected in times of crisis. Be it to mobilise survival essentials, to connect with emergency services, family or the use of sophisticated tools to navigate and rescue – in the times that we now live, technology has most definitely fast tracked the way we process crisis.

What other experiences do you share about using technology during times of crisis?

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