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[liberationtech] How Social Networks and Mobile Tech Helped in Haiti

Yosem Companys companys at
Fri Jan 14 11:27:05 PST 2011

*How Social Networks and Mobile Tech Helped in Haiti*
* (01/12/11) Mathew Ingram*

Social media and other mobile tools have been very useful for transmitting
crucial information in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti
a year ago, but the information was not used as well as it could have been,
according to the Knight Foundation. The organization recently released a
comprehensive report on the use of technology following the earthquake. The
report describes Haiti as a living laboratory for short messaging service
(SMS), interactive online maps, radio-cell phone hybrids, and other wireless
applications. Although the technology allowed for a democratic approach to
information management, new media activists also note that there were
limitations in crisis settings when working with military and international
humanitarian organizations that have more closed systems. "Information may
be gathered and assembled in an open, democratic fashion," the report says.
"But often the practical response effort is driven by large organizations
that deal with information in a radically different way." Ushahidi, which
can aggregate and process information from a variety of sources such as SMS,
Twitter, and radio, and then plot it on a map, was a powerful tool during
the relief effort, as was crowdsourcing. The report says a lack of
coordination--and in many cases a lack of understanding of how to use the
tools--prevents the Haiti relief effort from being seen as a new media
success story.
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