Communication during a natural disaster is shifting to digital platforms, most notably social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
According to a December report, "Social Media Use During Disasters," by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, Internet usage on the East Coast saw a 114 percent spike on the first day of Hurricane Sandy.
Additionally, Twitter saw 1.1 million tweets mentioning the word "hurricane" for 21 hours during Hurricane Sandy between Oct. 29 and 30. Ultimately classified as a superstorm, it became the No. 2 most talked about topic on Facebook for all of 2012.
The public turns to online communities during disasters because of the need to know the latest developments. Social media is a convenient source for exchanging new information quickly, since it can be accessed via desktop computer, tablet and mobile devices.
Social networks also offer disaster victims a way to connect with family and friends. Further, they can become platforms that contribute to a sense of community and help mobilize relief efforts.
In its report, START cautions about some of the drawbacks of seeking information on the Internet during emergency situations, including the distribution of inaccurate information and the overwhelming volume of information distributed on social networks.
The Tampa Bay Times is here to help.
When disaster strikes, you can turn to tampabay.com and the Tampa Bay Times on social media as a reliable source of weather and road conditions, disaster relief, shelter information, on the scene reports and more.
In a time of disaster, the Times brings Florida residents accurate information that is useful and makes sense of everything being shared across the Web.
We encourage our readers to connect with us for information and to share with us to help tell the story. Here's how:
Tampabay.com: If a hurricane hits Florida, visit tampabay.com for critical information, constant updates, live blogs, searchable databases, interactive maps, relief resources, shelter and traffic information, photos, videos, stories and much more.
Tampabay.com welcomes you to join our growing community of registered users who will interact and engage with each other on a local level, should a major storm hit the Tampa Bay region.
Social media: Get constant storm updates and talk to the Times on social media in the following ways:
Share with us: We want to know what the community is seeing, hearing and experiencing. If a storm hits, share photos, videos, tweets and more to inform our coverage of your community. Do so in the following ways:
Use hashtag: #TampaBayTimes
Share direct: facebook.com/tampabaycom