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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Social 999 and Information Dam - How to deal with social emergencies with technology? - Part 1

Today - a post not directly related to businesses or branding as such, something more related rather with my work with social networks, technology,development, human rights - social change in general. Inspired by the latest conversations in the field, especially by the pioneering thoughts of Clay Shirky, I had been thinking along the lines of a concept which I term as 'social 999' and a related concept of 'information dams' and how, I wonder, we could use these to precipitate social change. These are very embryonic thoughts and will require further research, ideas and investigation in days to come.The key question is how would it be if we could use social networking platforms as some sort of a social 999 or a social 911 in which case we could use a combination of existing social media channels where the look-alikes of typical real life emergencies such as 'policing, medical and fire-fighting' could be dealt with by the community members themselves?

If you look at how the emergency numbers and the services that are provided across countries by calling the usually three digit emergency number, you will realise that there are several characteristics related to the emergencies. Firstly they concern with loss, damage or deterioration of properties, health or even life of an individual or a community as a whole. Imagine what happens when a fire breaks out in a block of buildings and there are women, children and elderly trapped inside. Think about a theft or a crime occurring which effect a household or an individual which require police to address the case immediately. In the same breathe, imagine when the paramedics rush with their ambulance to attend to the deteriorating health situation of any unfortunate ailing person in pain. All these circumstances include the threat to health, property or law and order which can influence individuals and communities alike.

Secondly there is this aspect of reaction speed. Imagine what would happen if the fire brigade arrives to a burning block of flats after say 2-3 hours when the whole infrastructure might get reduced to ashes. Similarly what's the point if the paramedics arrive at the scene to attend a heart patient in distress after an hour or so? How quickly the emergency service providers can react is one of the key critical success factors that make 999 or 911 effective and useful for the community.

Thirdly it's important that perfectly skilled professionals are standing by to respond to our emergency calls. How terrible it would be that a bunch of amateurs wearing uniforms would show up with water buckets to extinguish a fire? Even worse if they hesitate to plunge into the fire risking their own lives to save others. The brave-hearts fighting with fire are expected to be brave and well trained. Similarly you will not want amateurs to attend to a patient who have just had a heart attack.

Finally there is this issue of abuse of the system. Imagine the amount of false alarms the emergency services in real life must have to deal with on a daily basis. This can range from old widows calling 999 to help look for their missing cats to panic struck health freak who calls for paramedics after mild chest burns which may be due to trapped wind. In majority of the cases I guess emergency service providers have no other way but to respond and attend to such calls, incase the issues are life threatening, even if they end up with a pure time wasting experience.

Now lets take this opportunity to replace these emergencies with some kind of a social emergency, violations of human rights of some sort against any individual or a community and imagine the services- as actions against those violations. How could we conceptualise a ‘social 999’ like scenario where the user groups, communities of best practices, groups, tribes, tightly or loosely connected networks – whatever you call it, will use social networks to deal with a social emergency, a man made crisis of some nature, which might require urgent addressing by all involved to tackle the challenge. Lets look into some more details of social 999 and the concept of ‘information dam’ in the next release.

1 comment:

Loginbd said...

is there any tips from you for a business directory website business????....If you create a post on online business in BD it would be really helpful....