Understanding the Power of Social Media as a Communications Tool in the Aftermath of Disasters, Hearing Before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, First Session, May 5, 2011   [open pdf - 6MB]

From the opening statement of Mark L. Pryor: "Today the Subcommittee has been joined by very insightful guests to talk about the increasingly important role that social media networks play during disaster response and recovery efforts. From search and rescue to family reunification, to safety updates, to communicating vital shelter information, to other critical or lifesaving information, and to all around situational awareness, social media is becoming a tool that people are coming to rely on and to use heavily during emergencies. In July 2010, the American Red Cross conducted a survey--and they are here today, and they will probably talk about this in more detail, but they conducted a survey of over 1,000 people about their use of social media sites in emergency situations. The results of the survey were striking: 82 percent of the participants used some form of social media at least once a day, and nearly half of those use it every day or nearly every day. The survey found that if they needed help and could not reach 911, one in five would try to contact responders through a digital means such as e-mail, Web sites, or social media. If Web users knew of someone else who needed help, 44 percent would ask other people in their social network to contact authorities. Three out of four respondents would expect help to arrive in an hour if a call for help was delivered over the Internet; 35 percent would post a request for help directly on a response agency's Facebook page, and 28 percent would send a direct Twitter message to responders." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Mark L. Pryor, Scott P. Brown, W. Craig Fugate, Renee Preslar, Suzy DeFrancis, Shona L. Brown, and Heather Blanchard.

Report Number:
S. Hrg. 112-390; Senate Hearing 112-390
Public Domain
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Government Printing Office, Federal Digital System: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/
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