Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness

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Q:Find a case study showing how social media can be used for situational awareness, instruction or preparedness activities and discuss.

1)Situational awareness refers to the ability perceive events and environmental elements according to the time and space, what they mean and being able to project their status in the future. Situational awareness is essential in ensuring proper decision making in various scenarios and industries. Lack of proper situational awareness leads to poor decision making which leads to accidents and mishaps attributed to human error (Lundberg, 2015). Therefore situational awareness is very crucial since in its complete operation, it performs three roles that are very essential for proper decision making that is; enabling parties to perceive the elements which are in the environment, enabling them to comprehend the situation on the ground and lastly enabling them to project future occurrence and status of events.

In order for an organization to gain situational awareness, there are various tools which can be used. One of the tools which have emerged as very essential in the process of situational awareness creation and management is social media. Social media generally refers to applications which are Internet-based and which enable intercommunication and the sharing of information and resources between parties (Bischoff, 2012).

An instance where social media has been used to create situational awareness is the event of a disaster management such as the Chennai Floods in 2015. During this disaster when the city of Chennai experienced the worst flooding they have had in over a century, the use of social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter were used to create situational awareness and provide the much needed help (Davenport, 2018).

This disaster resulted in the loss of assets worth between 3 to 10 billion dollars and the death of more than 500 people. The flood also caused numerous challenges such as power outages throughout the city, breakout of disease and food shortages. However, through innovative practices and the use of social media platforms, people in dire need of aid were able to receive the much needed help. These social media sites were used to make information available to the public on where the relief centers were and which are areas were greatly affected and needed help providing insight for both the affected parties and rescue agencies.

Social media platforms were found as very important sources of information during the disaster because they are used widely by the population to share information which could be useful for government and rescue agencies in their effort to provide the much needed aid. In order for these social media platforms to create situational awareness in this disaster, social analytics were used to create digital listening channel enabling government agencies to understand the situation on the ground and respond accordingly. The social media platforms were also very important in managing the disaster and creating situational awareness because they provided data that was geographically based and real-time capturing the situation of the communities which were affected (Davenport, 2018).

In creating situational awareness, social media platforms through the analytics tools also enabled the government and relief agencies prioritize the information given and prepare their targeted actions according to the needs identified. The government was also able to avoid any blind spots which had not been reported and adequately provide aid for all the affected regions.

Through social media, the government and other relief agencies were also able to identify which were the top priority needs among the population and prepare accordingly. Davenport (2018) reports that, had the government relied on the channels of communications they normally used to get the information they needed to respond to the disaster, it would have been a major catastrophe.

Social media has therefore been identified as a very important tool in the process of creating situational awareness in all the phases of a disaster starting from mitigating the disaster before it happens by reducing the vulnerabilities and preparing the citizens, warning and giving alerts to the public when the disaster is nearing, communicating with the public during a disaster to prioritize responses and post-disaster analysis where social media is used to discuss key problems being faced and the necessary actions for the recovery process.

2) Social media can be used as a powerful tool to increase awareness about a specific program or situation. The voice of social media is being heard by the authorities today and it cannot be said that the social media campaigns always end up in failure.

An example could be derived from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in which the Tulane University students used Ushahidi, an open source software platform, to aid in the massive cleanup effort. Participants in the Oil Spill Crisis Map project helped to visualize the data on maps by harvesting reports generated through email, text messaging, Twitter and other social media portals.

Such social media activities can help to keep a tab on history as well as to determine future plans. It is easy to plan out the future strategies if the people have an insight into how plans were made in the history and what were the shortcomings.

Yin, J., Lampert, A., Cameron, M., Robinson, B., & Power, R. (2012). Using social media to enhance emergency situation awareness. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 27(6), 52-59.

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Situational Awareness


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