Blood, Sweat and Tweets: When Timely Access to Information Spells the Difference between Life and Death

By Meghann Wooster posted 02-14-2012 14:04


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate has been talking a lot about Twitter lately. As reported by FierceGovernmentIT, he recently told attendees at Tech@State that by monitoring what’s being said by people using social media during a disaster, emergency response teams are able to more quickly jump in and provide necessary assistance.

During an earlier interview with Homeland Security Today, Fugate explained, “The earlier and best reports as to the severity of the impact of a disaster come from the public.” He asked that emergency managers view communications from the public as “sensors on the ground.”

In fact, he said that monitoring social media can save lives, and cited the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as an example. According to Homeland Security Today, “Using their wireless devices, people trapped in debris or rubble were able to text or use social media to call for help, Fugate recalled. With the help of cell phone providers, the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations were able to pinpoint their locations and send urban search and rescue teams to free them.”

It’s really an amazing example of how vital having timely access to information can be.

Most organizations aren’t dealing in life-or-death decisions, but that doesn’t mean that fast access to accurate information isn’t important.

As my colleague Kimberly Samuleson has said, “Information is the lifeblood of the organization… In a harsh business climate, information”—which she defines as ‘data with context’—“allows organizations to survive—even thrive.”

Indeed, as I noted in a recent post referencing Nien-Ling Wacker’s keynote speech during Empower 2012, “With fast access to the right information, businesses can react quickly to changing conditions. They can adjust their strategy, deliver more value and continue to provide goods and services that are interesting and unique and noteworthy. They can avoid commoditization and stay ahead of the curve.”

Whether you access your information via Twitter, Facebook or Laserfiche ECM, it’s clear that technology can accelerate your decision-making process and help you achieve better results.

At Tech@State, Fugate said, “No tweet stops the bleeding,” but if you’re pulled out of the rubble because of one, I’d say it comes pretty darned close.

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