Finally, in February 2017, Facebook took the much-anticipated step of launching a new tool to help people communicate and seek assistance during emergency situations. It is a fantastic idea, one that is long overdue.
Facebook first delved into the world of emergency assistance with the launch of Safety Check in 2014, which allows people in disaster-struck areas to let their friends and families know if they are unharmed after the event. The new Facebook tool, Community Help, takes it a step farther. It is essentially an online forum where people can come together to provide support – such as by providing food, shelter and money – to people struggling during emergency situations.
How Facebook is Helping During Emergency Situations
Both Safety Check and Community Help are activated only when Facebook receives an alert from one or more global crisis reporting agencies regarding an impending natural disaster. Community Help in particular is currently only available in six countries (including the U.S. and Canada), but Facebook plans to expand in the near future.
Again, this is a terrific idea. Social media sites are rapidly becoming increasingly useful for both utilities and utility customers during outage restoration and other emergency situations. The reason is that these sites can be accessed via smart phone, so there is no need to have power. As such, they are being utilized more and more by utilities to communicate updated information, as well as to solicit and receive outage reports from customers. And new tools that support overall restoration efforts – like Community Help – will make social media even more useful during crisis situations.