With anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, CIO magazine has an interesting article titled “How Social Networking Saved New Orleans” about how web-based new media tools such as Flickr, Yahoo Groups, wikis and Google Maps have been integral in citizen efforts to help reestablish and rebuild their community. The article highlights the work of Alan Gutierrez from the nonprofit group Think New Orleans which offered residents:
a crash course in social networking to help people emerge from the rubble and to find their voice; fight the government; solicit help; and save their neighborhoods, schools and each other…We had to find a way to divide and conquer,” says Gutierrez. “Citizens became our knowledge workers. We were able to collect experts and to use their viewpoint as a home owner to help do the job that the government was supposed to do. People reached out to these tools because they were compelled to. Using blogs with names like Fix the Pumps and Squandered Heritage, citizens took up “beats,” lending their professional expertise, ingenuity and gumshoe efforts to create a citizens’ voice to counter city government rhetoric.
It is a great case study in citizen uses of preparedness 2.0 tools not only to respond to disaster but also to build and strengthen a community for everyday life. Thanks to the American Red Cross’ Wendy Harman for sending me this article.