Sonic Migration

Disaster Response and the Internet | April 21, 2013

In his Forbes blog post, Matt Butter shares how ordinary people mobilized the different technologies and social media to offer assistance after the bombings in the Boston through the use of tools like Google Drive, Person Finder and Twitter. Boston residents offered their homes to anyone affected by the bombings on Google Drive.

I think that technology and in particular social media is already shaping these kinds of events. The New York Times referred to the FBI’s releasing images of the bombing suspects as ‘the unprecedented crowd-sourcing manhunt urging the public to look at pictures and video on the FBI website.’ The FBI also used its own Facebook and Twitter page to solicit pictures and images from Boston Marathon attendees and participants to locate the suspects.

In the future, someone will pull together the various internet tools like Google Drive and People Finder and standardize their use by developing software for the next disaster to facilitate collaboration. One example is Sisters Caitria and Morgan O’Neill developed based on their experience of taking charge of their community’s disaster relief efforts after a tornado caused serious damage in their town. The Recovers software has been used by many communities to coordinate disaster recovery.  You can view their TED talk here.

These are great and exciting developments but there is a dark side to the use of social media tools. During the hunt for a suspect, a young man, Salah Eddin Barhoum,was mistakenly identified as a suspect. The tools are useful and nimble but if we don’t check our facts before releasing information we can do harm.


  1. Very nice Victoria,
    looks like you are professional blogger !!
    Keep up the good work.r

    Comment by Ravi — April 23, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  2. Bloggin since 2004 ? OMG
    you are a professional now !
    Good job Victoria, keep it up.

    Comment by ravikhk14 — April 23, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    • more reluctant than professional, Ravi!

      Comment by victoriaz3000 — April 25, 2013 @ 11:30 am

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