According to Norris and our online reading, an overall disaster readiness strategy is created through the development of four “primary sets of adaptive capacities”. These capacities include, “Economic Development, Social Capital, Information and Communication, and Community Competence.” Now to me, this all looks like a bunch of mumbo jumbo so before we get into the communication techniques aspect of these capacities and how they might be used to create community resilience let’s first define what community resilience is. According to Norris,
“Community resilience is a process linking a network of adaptive capacities (resources with dynamic attributes) to adaptation after a disturbance or diversity.”
OR according to Norris, other individuals have their own way of defining community resilience as well. He references:
My favorite way to define community resilience comes from the document (also pictured in Norris’ work) by Egeland, 1993. They define it as,
“The capacity for successful adaptation, positive functioning, or competence…despite high-risk status, chronic stress, or following prolonged or severe trauma.”
So now with this basic understanding of making a positive recovery from a tragedy we can move on to what communication strategies might be used in doing so. Norris touches on aspects of communication that we have discussed in class in terms of getting a message across. He addresses the importance of correctly relaying correct information, using a trustworthy messenger who reflects the values of the community, and how to relay the information. Norris references September 11, 2001 in identifying strategies for communication. He writes,
“Communication infrastructure is also a valuable resource. On the basis of their experiences in New York City after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Draper et al. (2006) maintained that it is advantageous for a life-line (or hotline) system to be in place beforehand. These communication systems can be ramped up after the disaster to coordinate and deploy volunteers, and later they provide a central means for the pubic to learn about and access services (see also Norris et al. 2006). Media also can be engaged to publicize available services and educate the public about typical reactions to disaster (e.g., Gist and Stolz 1982; Norris et al. 2006).”
Norris calls attention to the common crisis communication theme of planning beforehand. This helps create order when everything appears to be out of place. Additionally, he references the media as a communication strategy. What better and faster of a way to disperse information than through the media. In class we have discussed television and radio usage but most importantly the use of social media as a communication strategy. Facebook and Twitter are phenomenal means to get a message to the public, and fast.
Now how do all of these add to community resilience? The answer is simple. Through the planning ahead communication strategies not only is restoration much easier to achieve but so is dictating how to restore, what resources are needed, and where to locate them. The strategy of media and more importantly social media enhances these objectives. Additionally, social media can serve as a network to establish advocates in the community, a mean for volunteers to be in the loop, and for those affected by the disaster to find comfort and hope. It is through these strategies that community resilience is able to and can be fully achieved.
In today’s society, most businesses have turned to online marketing to reach new clientele and sustain relationships with past customers. Social media is also used to inform the public of news, trends, and of any possible crises. Facebook and Twitter are social media sites that are used multiple times daily by a mass audience, therefore making it easy for companies to release information quickly.
In many instances today, people find out breaking news information through Facebook and Twitter. For example, many people are able to follow news sources such as Huffington Post and USA Today which release information to followers and these followers are then able to hashtag the crisis and make it trending. Trending topics are then released to even more people, spreading the news even faster. I can recall many instances where I have found reliable information, such as the Joplin Tornado, on Twitter or Facebook before I saw it on the news or heard it on the radio. These Twitter and Facebook updates not only report during the crisis, but after as well to inform the public of possible recovery and how the situation is being handled. Because of smartphones, more people have access to Twitter and Facebook than tv and radio.
The video below shows firsthand the impact social media plays during crises such as the recent protests in Egypt:
Facebook and Twitter seem to be the quickest way organizations like FEMA can send and receive news during disasters. More and more people seem to have smartphones in this day and age, and therefore have access to internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter 24/7. There are even Facebook and Twitter applications on these smartphones that allow users to press a button on their phone screen that quickly directs them to Facebook or Twitter. There is never a dull moment or a day that someone with a smartphone goes without hearing the last updates, especially if that person is subscribed to a certain organization.
The best way to get people to receive urgent information quickly is to let them know where the best place is to find that information. Whether they need to “like” a certain Facebook page or “follow” a certain organization on Twitter, that information needs to be communicated to the public before a disaster strikes, so that when it does strike, they know where they need to turn to for the most updated information. As Rebecca Ford of The Hollywood Reporter says,
Cell phone networks can crash during an emergency, while social media is considered a more reliable form of communication.
She goes on to say that Twitter users learned of tremors seconds before feeling them on the East Coast. To learn more about this topic go to http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hurricane-irene-fema-urges-people-227765.
FEMA’s Facebook Page has important information that one might need to know when preparing for a disaster or if someone were to be a victim of a disaster. FEMA also has daily tweets that one could view to get updated information about disasters. Below is an image of what the official FEMA Twitter page looks like.