Tech Talk: Kenya Red Cross Uses Social Media in Emergencies

Report
from Canadian Red Cross
Published on 04 Oct 2013 View Original

There is no national emergency number like 911 in Kenya and no national disaster plan. Emergency services are notoriously unresponsive and slow to react. Instead, organizations like the Kenya Red Cross use social media to spread information and coordinate emergency responses; relying on the thousands of Kenyans who use their mobile phones to access social networking sites.

Philip Ogola runs the Kenya Red Cross social media command centre and has spent the last year transforming the way the organization responds to emergencies and maintains public safety. Using information gathered through tweets, Facebook messages, or text messages, Ogola scans other social sites for more information on the same incident and is able to hand the information to first responders on the ground within minutes.

When gunmen attacked the Westgate mall in Kenya in September, Philip responded with a tweet that has since reached an estimated 50 million people.

Philip Ogola used information from social media to get information from inside the mall as well as share information and updates about situation including information on missing persons and casualties and what supplies were needed. He even set up a nationwide blood drive from his iPad outside the mall!