Personally, I don’t live in a rural or remote area. I have a luxury of residing at a metropolitan address, where emergencies are not always as catastrophic or set in history books for students to learn about. In learning about devastating emergencies, I have been in the comforts in home, surrounded by loved ones. So, the emergence of and necessity for integrating social media platforms into emergency communication is a change I strongly advocate.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have aspects that “integrate tools that support various forms of sociality into one platform”, meaning that social media essentially has tools of “cognition, communication and co-operation”(Fuchs, 2015, p317). Therefore, the vast opportunities available to government and emergency operations to connect and communicate with necessary publics concretes the urgent need to immerse emergency communication amongst social media platforms.
The bushfires of 2009, known as ‘Black Saturday’, took 173 lives and through The Royal Commission, information alighted the lack of strong and efficient communication with communities currently and plausibly affected by the natural disaster. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report recommended that ” the State revise its bushfire safety policy”, ” revise the approach to community bushfire safety education” and “standardise their operating systems and information and communications technologies with the aim of achieving greater efficiency and interoperability”(Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission, 2009, p33-38).
Updated mobile technologies such as mobile phones, radios and even laptops or tablets, alongside social media platforms evidently needs to be amalgamated into emergency communication. Completing a monolithic task as this will provide a greater chance of safety and survival for the particular community, although it needs to be evident and paramount that all methods of communication via physical interaction need to continue also, to ensure individuals that do not interact via social media are informed.
I respect that “regulation and legislation may not prevent a Hurricane Katrina from happening” but regulating and developing communication will “mitigate the damage and maximize the response effort”(Heath & Palenchar, 2009, p277).
What we need now is further education into mobile technology’s and social media platforms where emergency communication can take paramount importance on the account holders screen. Where this may be overriding the entire screen or airwaves of the desired audience, our government and emergency teams must collaborate to custom design operatives specific to the Australian lifestyle. Doing so will create a process which is specific to the activities of Australian communities, whether rural or metropolitan, integrating a sense of pride and comfort for individuals integrating the system in their day-to-day lives.
These new operations need not reach such paranoid levels as The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which is “tasked with providing federal assistance to state and local governments that responded to natural or accidental disastrous events”(Heath & Palenchar, 2009, p279). Rather, Australia needs to use the DHS as a stepping stone to a pleasant and positive system of communication throughout the Australian government (federal, state and local), emergency organisations, Australian security and the Australian public. Trust and free moving interactions between these groups will ensure successful communications and safe communities.
I think we’ve seen enough TV shows, such as Homeland, where paranoia and fear are dominating factors. Why can’t we instead assimilate positivity, trust and respect amongst the communities and security operations? Why not instead of Borderforce Security, we have Australian shows that show emergency success, where more lives are saved rather than lost.
Fuchs, C. (2015) Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media. United Kingdom: Routledge.
Heath, R, & Palenchar, M 2009, Strategic Issues Management : Organizations And Public Policy Challenges, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc, eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost),
2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (2010) Melbourne: The Commission.