Mobile media technology is increasingly being used in emergency and humanitarian media response programmes. Mobile communication allows people in disaster-affected areas to access humanitarian aid information and make their voices heard in these crises situations. It also allows aid agencies to provide vital services in an effective manner and to stay connected during disasters.
The American Red Cross is implementing new ways of delivering aid to those who are in need with the use of mobile media.
Recently, the relief organization has begun using text messaging as well as social networking tools to deliver disaster relief services. American Red Cross Senior Vice President of Relief Services, Joe Becker, says that ARC now sends text messages to tell affected victims where they can find emergency services and also lets them send text messages if they need help. Becker said that these new types of media initiatives are “dramatically changing how we do business.”
One of the most impressive ways in which mobile media is shaking up the implementation of relief efforts is Telehealth technology which allows physicians to provide important health care services. Telehealth technology was implemented during Hurricane Ike and showed that cell phones can facilitate medical care by reconfiguring the system to enable remote consultations and reduce patient load on local facilities.
Innovative Use of Technology for Humanitarian Aid was also among the projects featured at the latest meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. CGI focuses on enhancing access to modern technology and the increasing use of mobile media is listed as one of the strategies of Community Empowerment Programmes supported by the Clinton Initiative. The Project seeks to extend a model for community empowerment across Africa, which uses mobile media to teach literacy and numeracy skills to the non-literate through the use of SMS text messaging.
Clearly, the use of emerging mobile technologies allows for delivery of information and aid to those affected by natural disasters, political unrest and poverty. As technology evolves, humanitarian organizations must embrace mobile media to provide aid with the biggest possible impact. Who said a cell phone couldn’t change the world?