Sunday, December 8, 2013

at #8 on my list of top 10 SMEM technologies; SMS

The next entry in my top 10 list of socially-convergent technologies (a series of posts over the Holiday season simultaneous with SMEM thought leaders: Kim Stephens and Jim Garrow) deals with SMS (or short messaging service).

Simply put, SMS is a lifesaving technology. Combined with the power of crisis mapping platforms, SMS can great enhance the ability of authorities to fully comprehend the consequences of a disaster. 

Nowhere was this more in evidence than in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake of 2010. It turns out that mapping messages sent out on SMS can help with damage assessment.

A global community used SMS to provide very accurate information to rescue teams on the ground and to ensure aid got to where it was needed most

So it works. Why? Because in many parts of the world, and even in North America, despite the growing prevalence of smart/superphones ... SMS is still a favourite tool. That's why it proved essential again, as recently as in the aftermath of the recent typhoon which devastated the Philippines. 

Often, when voice networks are overburdened following a disaster, SMS messages will still go through. Is it foolproof? Probably not. But the technology is ultimately empowering in a crisis for many people around the world ... provided it's used the right way

Because it is such a powerful tool, with increasing uses, efforts are being made worldwide to standardize its applications in disasters.

From being part of public alerting tools to allowing the global community to come to the aid of areas impacted by disasters, SMS text messaging is here to stay in emergency management. In fact, despite possible drawbacks (think of the SMS-spread rumours that gripped India) ... more and more people are using SMS to get on social networks when/where they don't have other options ... or don't want to pay for big data plans or run down their battery!

Because of its near ubiquitous nature and its ability to be a critical lifeline in disasters/crises, the SMS tech comes in at number 8 on my top 10 list.

The series so far: 

#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

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