‘Build back better’, Social Media and the Private Sector – Resources for Disaster Response

In recent months a number of reports and research studies have been published, each of them contributing in some way to the field of disaster response and the role of mobile technologies. Each of these reports will be added to our collection of resources, but we wanted to profile a few here in more detail.

Build Back Better

A disaster is rarely seen as a good thing. But can they present a unique opportunity when rebuilding, to ‘build back better’, incorporating increased resilience into building specifications and planning measures?

The ODI recently published a report on the topic, Disaster as Opportunity? Building back better in Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti in which it asks questions about the nature of this ‘opportunity’.

Challenges are faced on multiple levels; what is ‘better’? How is ‘better’ achieved? The report takes lessons from Aceh, Myanmar and Haiti, in order to analyse the ‘build back better’ concept. Such principals are currently being considered following the catastrophic impact of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. The vow to prioritise resilience now to prevent the need to continuously rebuild comes with many challenges.

This topic is not a new one, with several other publications produced in recent years; UNISDR, Building Back Better for Next Time and Practical Action, Principals of Building Back Better.

Social Media in Emergencies

The role of social media in disaster response continues to be recognised as being one which is both important and in need of further study. The CDAC Network report, Social Media in Emergencies explores how organisations can make use of Social Media during crisis and disaster response, the challenges and opportunities, and lessons learnt in this field.

Research continues to uncover uses for social media in response efforts.  From predicting migration patterns from Twitter to Crisis mapping and MicroMapping, these uses are broad. As social media adapts and advances to provide new user experiences and functionality, so too increases the opportunity to find methods of employing these in disaster response scenarios. 

The Role of the Private Sector

Research into the role of the private sector in disaster response continues. A recent report from the ODI, Humanitarian crises, emergency preparedness and response: the role of business and the private sector draws upon Jordan as a case study. The report points towards a need for greater understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both the private and humanitarian sectors, and the range of different potential models of collaboration.

As the private sector moves to define its role in disaster response, its increasing role can overshadow that of the state. Humanitarian, public and private sector alike must acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, to enable the most effective responses to be undertaken through collaboration.  

A growing body of literature

The GSMA Disaster Response Programme will soon be publishing a number of industry case studies, highlighting MNO partnerships and activities. These, as well as the report lists above, continue to add to the understanding of the potential roles for mobile communications, and Mobile Network Operators, in disaster response and emergency situations.

Photo: DFAT Photo Library, via Flickr.

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