During weeks like this, I’m reminded that wireless and long distance networks that we take for granted aren’t designed for major emergencies. They’re engineered for average peak usage and can quickly become overloaded when tragedy strikes.
After this week’s 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, I found out about the status of some of my friends on Facebook:
Tools like Facebook, Twitter, IM and email can be great ways to communicate in emergencies. You can quickly let a lot of people know what’s going on. I found out about the the bridge collapse when a friend IMed me.
My friend Sree has some great advice on how to best use technology to prepare for emergencies. I would add one thing to Sree’s list: scan important documents and have them available online. I keep scans of the data page of my passport, contact lens prescription and other key information in my email account. You can also use an online file storage service.
Update: The Pioneer Press has story about Twin Cities residents using blogs, Flickr and Twitter to communicate during the crisis.