Social media’s extraordinary versatility makes it a perfect channel for communication during emergencies: social platforms allow the authorities to disseminate important news and information while connecting ordinary people to each other, enabling collective responses and sharing of resources. With that in mind, the city government of San Francisco is creating a social network Web site and app specifically for emergencies, according to Mashable, which reported the news last week.
The SF72 platform, as it is known, allows SF residents to register their homes and list supplies they own which may be useful in an emergency (for example portable generators), as well as their own disaster-response skills. Members will be organized into neighborhoods, so in the event of an emergency they will automatically be able to see what resources are available nearby. People who need help can post their requests for assistance on the same neighborhood-level communities.
Currently in beta, SF72 was designed by Ideo in collaboration with the SF city government’s Department of Emergency Management, and the platform is designed to allow easy integration with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
The idea of local, place-based social networks is nothing new, of course: one such network, NextDoor, allows users to create limited social networks which are open only to people living in a particular neighborhood to discuss things like community events, classifieds listings, local crime, parking spaces, and trash day, to name just a few topics. Users can also form sub-groups within neighborhoods to discuss things that aren’t necessarily of general interest, like local sports leagues or enthusiast clubs.