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4:13 pm - Sunday February 18, 2018

FB joins hands with Govt on natural disasters

Agencies, New Delhi

Facebook, one of the most popular social media platforms, has joined hands with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for instant communication with the affected people in times of natural calamities and disaster.

India is prone to natural disasters like floods, earthquake, landslides, cyclones, or droughts. These are recurring phenomena intermittently hitting various parts of the country.

During and after these crises response organisations and their teams need accurate information to help communities. Traditional communication channels often go offline with the disaster and it can take time and resources to understand where help is actually needed.

Facebook has come forward and it is making “Disaster Maps” with the data available with India’s NDMA, and other Indian humanitarian aid organisations. Disaster Maps, introduced globally in June, use aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help organisations bridge the critical gap in information they may face while responding to natural disasters.

Facebook can provide multiple types of maps to help in disaster response by including aggregated location information people may choose to share with this site. Similarly “Movement Maps” will illustrate patterns of movement between different neighborhoods or cities over a period of several hours during the times of crisis.

By understanding these patterns, response organisations can better predict where resources will be needed, gain insight into patterns of evacuation, or predict where traffic will be most congested.

“Safety Check-maps” are based on where a community on the Facebook uses safety check to notify their friends and family that they are safe during a disaster. “We are using this de-identified data in aggregate to show where more or fewer people check in safe, which may help organisations understand where people are most vulnerable and where help is needed.

We are sharing this information with trusted organisations that have the capacity to act on the data and respect our privacy standards”, said Ritesh Mehta of Facebook.

This social platform will now help the response organisations to paint a more complete picture of where affected people are located so they can determine where resources, like food, water and medical supplies are needed and where people are out of harm’s way.

It is also supporting the pilot of the Disaster Information Volunteers (DIV) scheme where networks of trained volunteers provide supplementary information to inform government relief efforts through the Facebook Workplace platform.

Being executed by SEEDS (a leading NGO working on disaster resilience), this programme will establish a network of volunteers to provide real-time, first-hand information on disasters in their local communities.

The volunteers will be mobilised, trained and connected through existing networks of local and credible civil society organisations as well as willing individuals from public agencies. This is being executed in two disaster prone states – Assam and Uttarakhand as a pilot project.

Facebook will provide support through the setup of Facebook Workplace for the volunteers to relay information, while the NDMA will receive this information swiftly to coordinate relief efforts.

While inaugurating the ‘India Disaster Response Summit, organised by the NDMA and Facebook, the Minister of States for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju appreciated the endeavors of Facebook.

He said that India needs to prepare for moving towards Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) from an approach of traditional Disaster Management.

He emphasised that Disaster Mitigation Strategy should be areas of priority for addressing Disaster Risk Management and efforts should be made on how best to leverage social media platforms to ‘prepare, respond and recover’ during and after a disaster.

“Collaboration with various stakeholders, including NGOs and private players, could provide the necessary base for response and help in ‘Capacity Building’ to handle disaster risk situation and also in addressing emergency rescue situations.

Government will act as facilitator towards information and communication among various stakeholders by helping evolve new modes of communication for better contact between the Government and the people,” remarked Rijiju.

The NDMA member RK Jain is also very enthusiastic about the Facebook’s initiative. He informed NDMA has proactively been using social media for awareness generation.

This collaboration is a milestone towards integrating social media with disaster response activities and efforts. He hoped this partnership will open new vistas for using mobile technology in disaster situations and response to them.


Posted in: Business

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