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Global humanitarian agencies conducting major test of social media

Exercise 24
Exercise 24
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Exercise 24 LogoThe United Nations, The Red Cross and 16 international governments are finishing an unprecedented 24 hour study of the social web’s ability to respond to humanitarian disaster efforts.

The day long study, called Exercise 24, is examining the speed with which Twitter and Facebook can be used to report information that may be useful to disaster recovery organisations and government agencies.

Exercise 24, which is being managed by disaster recovery experts in San Diego State University, began the drill at 12:30pm New York time by announcing that a large earthquake struck the cost California.  Over Friday night and Saturday morning the test went on to announce the development of an offshore tsunami and oil spill.

According to the project’s site, InRelief.org, the drill aims to “increase the velocity of the response [of government bodies and humanitarian agencies] during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) events by connecting military/civilian organizations, disseminating data freely over the internet, and providing the collaborative tools to expedite the sharing of critical information.”

The test will also examine the ability of the project’s site and Google’s App site to handle high traffic without crashing.

This test follows the increasing use of social media in disaster relief and reporting over the past six years.  Most recently Twitter and Facebook were used by relief and government agencies as well as the news media during the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in January 2010.

Experts will use RSS aggregators to collate online responses to the disaster drill.

The drill is due to end Saturday evening with the results to be announced soon with an initial review to be conducted on September 27 2010.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).