'Virtual crisis centres' provide valuable assistance

NZ quake victims turn to the web for help

Victims of the New Zealand Christchurch earthquake have turned to web services to act as a virtual crisis center.

Strained emergency services are being assisted by citizen efforts such as eq.org.nz which provides community information via the Christchurch Recovery Map. 

The map is populated with notices varying from official emergency services reports to local businesses stating their state of readyness to provide supplies.

Internet giant Google has also created a page on the firm’s crisis response site, providing valuable information, links and and services such as the Person Finder. 

Offers of assistance can also be seen in real time on he Twitter feed with the #eqnz hashtag. #safeinchch and #eqnzcontact are also seeing heavy use.

"Anecdotally we are hearing that people have been using Facebook Checkin to locate themselves and share that information on Facebook with families and friends," a spokesman for social media monitoring firm SR7 told the Sydney Morning Herald

"In our opinion, the location based social networking will increasingly become an important tool during times of crisis."

The recent floods in the Australian state of Queensland have also seen a strong response on social networking and collaboration sites as disaster victims document incidences and emergency response operations.

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