When slinging mud is a good thing

Writing about the power and importance of social networks and location-based technology must seem so yesterday. But, what if the devastating floods that hit Colorado in September happened in the PC years (pre-social) and not today? The negative impact on the rescue and recovery efforts is unthinkable.

I live just west of Denver and was horrified to watch what was happening to the state I’ve adopted and come to love. I was transfixed, like much of the nation, to my television, laptop and smartphone for news and information.

As the waters began to rise, so did the real time exchange of critical information shared by residents, news organizations and the government. As roads became impassable, infrastructure began to fail and homes literally started to float away, Facebook, Twitter and Google maps became vital tools for public safety.

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Some neighborhoods and entire towns were islands and impossible to reach. Google Crisis Maps provided updated information on where and to what extent the damage was.

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There is a long road ahead in terms of clean-up and recovery, but the effort was definitely kick started by social media in the hands of good people. Enter the ‘Mudslingers, a grassroots effort formed by a group of community volunteers. Affected residents could post on Facebook or tweet their location and what they needed – tools, a helping hand, supplies, etc. The Mudslingers would arrive – in some cases, within minutes – to help complete strangers with what needed to be done. It was so successful that the social pleas for help were centralized and fed into an interactive map that facilitated the deployment of volunteers where they were most needed.

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There were also many pets either lost or stranded. A Facebook page, originally developed during the wildfires, was converted to a pet rescue page. Here people could post about their missing pets or conversely, report animals that were found with the hopes of the reuniting them with their families. Again, it was hugely successful and so heartwarming to see the reunion pictures that many folks shared.

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Social tools proved a great enabler – making it possible for pets to find their families, communities to help each other and to warn of impending danger. Experts say it was a “hundred year storm.” I wonder what technologies will be there to help then.

Jennifer Voisard
Jennifer Voisard

Senior Consultant

Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.

Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.

She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.

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