Social Networks and Mobile Tech role in Haiti

Today is the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, which killed an estimated 230,000 people and has left millions of others homeless. As in some other recent catastrophes, social media such as Twitter, text messaging, interactive online maps and other tools such as crowdsourcing were used by both victims and rescue workers to co-ordinate relief efforts. But did they help? The Knight Foundation has released a comprehensive study of the use of technology during the aftermath of the quake, and found that while there is still a lot of work to be done, such tools can make rescue efforts and aid far easier and faster.

Haiti quickly became what the report describes as “a living laboratory for new applications such as SMS, interactive online maps and radio-cell phone hybrids.” But while many of the tools were extremely useful in transmitting crucial information, this information often wasn’t used as well as it could have been, for a variety of reasons.


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