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Google’s Emergency Management Roundtable aims to improve use of the internet in emergency situations

Social media marketing campaigns which utilise platforms like Twitter, Facebook and company blogs can be a great way for businesses to communicate with their clients in real time, disseminating important information quickly and easily.

But the internet can also provide far more important benefits to the community, such as delivering up-to-the-minute updates during emergency situations.

Last week Google held its first Emergency Management Roundtable, bringing together 60 leading emergency management practitioners from Australia and New Zealand with the aim of developing a better understanding of how governments, authorities and private companies can utilise the digital environment to help spread critical information.

"In times of crisis, we see that people use the internet to look for warning alerts, recommended actions, evacuation routes, the state of essential utilities, social services, shelter and access to food," reads a notice on the official Google Australia Blog published June 25.

"Currently, not all this demand for information online is being met."

Recent events such as the Black Saturday bushfires and the Christchurch earthquake have shown just how deadly the impact of natural disasters can be, and Google is keen to show increased cooperation with the government in order to better disseminate important information.

Google Australia's director of engineering Alan Noble suggests that Google's Crisis Response Team is already experienced in providing people with access to emergency alerts and news updates.

"There is a massive spike in internet usage soon after disaster occurs … even when power is out, people turn to their smartphones for web access," said Mr Noble, speaking at the Emergency Management Roundtable.

Google has asked that emergency authorities provide more data to the public in times of crisis, as well as make that data openly licensed and in an open and interoperable data format, in order to ensure the public remains fully informed.

Posted by Zak Wash