Specific use of technologies during disasters


As technology is flexible and offers a wide range of uses, hence people will be able to fulfil a wide range of needs during a disaster either by using one technology or by using a set of them (Dutta-Bergman 2004). For instance, during Hurricane Katrina, both social media and traditional media were used to meet information needs (Spence et al. 2007). This study focused also on disabilities and showed that both disabled and non-disabled people used the two technologies. Disabled people are found to be specifically vulnerable during a disaster (Phibbs et al. 2015; Hemingway & Priestley 2016) and more research is needed on their specific use of technology during these events. Mobile applications are also reported to be much used and useful during disasters for preparedness and response as they meet a variety of people's need, such as timely information, alerts, safety tips etc. (Bachmann et al. 2015). Technologies are even more useful given that various different needs may overlap. As Hagar (Hagar 2010) showed with her research on farmers' needs during the 2001 UK floods, farmers often seek information about a specific disaster related topic and would find social support at the same time. Accordingly, technologies hold the potential to help meeting people's many and diverse needs with a unique device such as a smartphone.

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