fishbat, an Online Marketing Company, Reacts to British Columbia’s Use of Social Media to Warn its citizens of Future Natural Disasters

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In light of last month’s 7.7-magnitude earthquake off of Haida Gwaii and the resulting tsunami that threatened the coast of British Columbia, social media agency fishbat reacts to B.C. leaders’ decision to turn to social media in order to warn and better prepare citizens for future tsunamis.

Following last month’s major earthquake off of Haida Gwaii and the resulting tsunami that threatened people living on the coast of British Columbia, B.C. officials make plans to utilize social media to better educate locals and prepare them for the future. Social media agency fishbat responds to the use of social media as a means of alerting people and preparing them to deal with the threat of natural disasters.

According to an article published this week by The Vancouver Sun, Justice Minister Shirley Bond and Emergency Management B.C. director of operations Chris Duffy announced on November 12th that they would be rolling out a secondary warning system. The article reports that it would “accompany the existing Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS), which uses phone, fax and e-mail” to spread the word to the public and to first responders should a tsunami risk be detected.

The article explains that the secondary system looks to double warning efforts by issuing a “separate e-mail from the Emergency Management B.C. to a ‘priority distribution list.’” Included on this list are local authorities, first responders and media outlets that are responsible for spreading the cautionary message.

Additionally, the Emergency Management B.C. will make use of Twitter (@EmergencyInfoBC) and website updates as well as a new mobile site to immediately update subscribers with current information as its made available.

“Taking the approach of alerting people to the dangers posed by natural disasters by using social media platforms to reach out to them in real-time is with its benefits,” comments Nick Renna, Social Media Strategy Manager for online marketing company fishbat. “In the case of what was seen last month in Canada, a secondary system protocol that uses Twitter and mobile updates to go beyond phone calls and traditional e-mail certainly couldn’t hurt.”

According to the article, despite having these new web-based safety measures now in place, a part of the population found in remote communities on Haida Gwaii, for example, may not benefit due to spotty cellular coverage and the lack of high-speed Internet.

Emergency coordinator Meredith Adams told The Vancouver Sun that she felt word-of-mouth communication yielded the best results in preparing communities who don’t own the latest smartphones or have immediate access to the Internet.

"What I tell people personally is, don't rely on your government to tell you what to do," said Adams.

The article reports that in the aftermath of the disaster, the provincial government was criticized for being slow to notify British Columbians in risk areas, but Justice Minister Bond went on to say that the quake and resulting tsunami gave his office the opportunity to “review everything in detail.”

According to the information presented in The Vancouver Sun article, “Municipal leaders, emergency coordinators and first responders…would have received notifications through the PENS system.” And in a statement issued by Duffy, “Existing procedures for staffing coordination and command centres, including providing on-the-ground support, remain unchanged.”

In other words, if the new social media efforts outlined in the secondary warning system were to fail, then primary efforts would still be in place to offer relief during times of disaster.

“There are moments when social media might not be as effective as we’d like, and in the case of those British Columbians living remotely who don’t have high-speed Internet and the latest in technology, social media efforts can fall flat in times of disaster,” says Renna. “The point, however, is that the use of social media to educate and connect people in times of distress is beneficial. It does help people stay informed and it shouldn’t be overlooked.”

fishbat, Inc. is a full service online marketing firm. Through social media management, search engine optimization (SEO), web design, and public relations, fishbat strives as a marketing firm to raise awareness about your brand and strengthen your corporate image.

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