The aftermath of the majorÂ earthquake that struckÂ centralÂ ChinaÂ has underscored the importance and potential of personal technology in helping the public deal withÂ major disasters.Â
As this posting fromÂ Matthew Ingram’s 2.0 blog inÂ Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper explains,Â Twitter broke the news of the earthquake and its ‘coverage’ has filled a news niche.
Like many others, I woke up this morning to news of a disaster in China: a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the southwest, with thousands of people either dead or injured. Unlike some, I didn’t get the news from the radio or TV — I got it fromÂ Twitter, a group-chat/instant messaging client that has been gaining in popularity as a real-time news application.Â Much like the forest fires in California last fall and other recent news events, Twitter became one of the main sources of on-the-ground reporting — even before CNN started picking up what was happening, and with more personal detail. According to Search Engine Land, Twitter even beat the U.S. Geological Survey, which tracks quake readings.
It is remarkable how relatively new technologies such asÂ Twitter are helping average citizensÂ report the news and provide information to help the authorities and other people respond to the disaster. As I have discussed previously, theseÂ tech applicationsÂ will develop after an emergency soÂ it makes senseÂ to begin educating us all more about them beforehand.