Social networks set tone for community information during LA fires
| 11.17.2008 | 00:16:17 | Views: 16186 | ID:
November 17 '08: As wildfires destroy homes in Southern California, social networking sites have been used by community first responders and citizens to spread important information, updates and maps in real-time. The fires have burned more than 1,000 homes, forced tens of thousands of residents to evacuate and have claimed over 20,000 acres in the past four days, Reuters reported. CNN reported Monday that at least one of the fires has been linked to human activity.
The Los Angeles Fire Department's news and information blog has acted as a clearinghouse of information on the latest news and developments, with readers able to comment and share information. The site includes links to the LAFD home page and the LAFD blog home page.Furthermore, LAFD has its own Twitter site, and YouTube users have been tagging videos of the Sayre Fire here and here as well as pictures from Flickr here. Currently, Total Capitol has a live fire map complete with information, stats and other critical information uploaded on its servers. Increasingly, social networks are playing a front-seat role in first response between local and state officials and the affected community. First responders created their own social network similar to Myspace, partnerships among local, state and federal governments with the private sector and community organizations include Essential Public Network, and Neighborhood America and the Super Urban Area Initiative respectively, and those wishing to establish their own social networking sites can do so through sites like Change.org. Officials told the LA Times they were making progress in some areas due to lesser wind speeds, rising humidity and containment. "California's fire season," Reuters reported, "which traditionally ran from June to October, has been a year-round menace for several years because of perennial drought. The state's booming population has led to homes being built in rugged canyons and on hillsides surrounded by brush and forest. ... In October 2007, 30 blazes raged across Southern California for almost a week, forcing evacuation of more than 500,000 people and damaging 2,000 homes." Networking among community organizations and local, state and federal government has been ongoing during recent disasters in the US including Hurricanes Ike and Fay as well as Tropical Storm Gustav. Networking sites also played a role during the Virginia Tech shootings. Additionally, DHS announced in September a partnership with Myspace to develop a hurricane preparedness social networking capability for users. And FEMA has its own YouTube channel. National Blueprint Tags: Intelligence & Situational AwarenessIntelligence & Situational Awareness, Communication & Public Information, Citizen and Community.
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