Recently southern part of India, received heavy rainfall causing floods. Worst rains it has received in 100 years. The rainfall has exceeded normal limits by over three times. According to Wikipedia, more than 450 people have died, and over 1.8 million people have been displaced. Damages and losses are estimated to be more than $3billion.
As grave as the situation might be, millions of people and even Google stepped up to help. It is a very good example of how people used technology to communicate with the victims. Google’s spreadsheet listing of crowdsourced relief such as accommodation for the stranded, was extensively used. Also Google setup one stop crisis response which has information about helplines, crowdsourced Chennai flood resources, medical personnel etc. including latest news and tweets regarding crowdsourced relief for the victims. Twitter was another social media channel that was severely used to reach out to the affected. Tons of tweets were posted by millions of people about giving shelter in their own homes for the now homeless, food and clothing supply and even phone recharge and battery supply etc. This was not only done by the relief centers but by commoners like me and you. Facebook activated safety check feature in Chennai. This helped many of us to ensure that our friends and family were safe.
What is more surprising is that, the people didn’t wait for the government or relief centers to do their bit. Instead they stepped up to help the victims themselves. I believe two reasons for this would be that they felt empowered by technology to make a difference themselves by taking matters into own hands. Another reason is, has the social media increased empathy in us by making us more connected than before? Has technology, to be more precise, social media brought us all closer? Is this the future – Open social collaboration to solve long standing issues?
No matter what the reason is behind this act of kindness, it is pushing us towards the right direction.
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama