We tweet either sanely or insanely for getting some new followers or clients or business on a daily basis. Some say Twitter is a waste of time but also had heard stories about how Twitter had helped people during emergency situations. Last evening I saw one such incident unfolding before my eyes live on Twitter. Last evening Mumbai was once again hit by another series of bomb blasts. The three major blasts that happened were competent enough to get us to press the panic button, to create rumors, to make the daily news channels run like hungry dogs for the juicy meat and to handicap the government. Undoubtedly, the timing of terror was appropriate as thousands were about to leave from work to their homes. Now with the fear prevailing the utmost question was also that how they will the stranded people get help and how they can inform their near and dear ones when all networks and modes of transportation were jammed. Well last night Twitter and Twitteraties showed India, how to handle a crisis situation and help people.
Within minutes of the bomb explosion, the news started to catch fire on the Twitter streams. Initially tweets were about the confirmation among friends instead of pressing the panic button.
Before the news could also hit the idiot boxes properly, Netra a prolific twitter personality with her community started pouring her help. The need of the hour was to stay calm, to reach out to people and help them. By now the news was really reaching people and you can see that in the below tweets. People were using #Mumbai and #MumbaiBlasts after finding the news of bomb blasts valid.
Meanwhile the Mumbai Police team had also reached out to people in a bit traditional manner by publishing phone numbers via SMS. People on Twitter pasted it on their timeline and started retweeting it. And in no time the behavior of tweets started changing. From conformation of blasts it was help via police control numbers. Though it would have been great if the Mumbai Police had their own Twitter account but nevertheless twitteraties had taken that as their responsibility.
For the next half an hour, people on Twitter were spreading tweets that had phone numbers of Police Control Room and nothing else. This was the time to do something different to help otherwise the numbers would just be spam. After information it was time for some real help. People started providing shelter for people who were stuck and can’t reach their home and started broadcasting it on their timeline. This kind of a move was required and the Twitter stream changed form to some real help offline. Now #Here2help was alive with #Mumbai and #Mumbaiblasts. This was just a small idea that was well appreciated but businesses who give community building gyan could have rather come ahead for help.
While the words were spreading on Twitter, the technology enthusiasts decided to put in their bit. Nitin Sagar, Product Manager at Map My India created a public Google spreadsheet to collect all helpline numbers. Nitin did the initial bit and the rest was taken further by the Twitter community updating it continuously. Within no time it was a helpline document and was circulating with each tweet. While the media was counting dead bodies and trying to get prime time news, real people on Twitter were helping each other. With all this good help building up, people were pouring out their spams too as celebrities sitting on their couches sending condolence messages, people talking about Kasab and finding coincidence etc. Nevertheless some real help was continuously flowing in and one such was from Zubin Nalawalla.
It’s more than twelve hours now and the Twitter steam is still alive. Although this effort won’t bring back the lost lives but then we ask one question to our Government: why was it not active on Twitter? And our heart goes out for Netra and people like her who used Twitter and showed how well Twitter can help people in such situations. Nitin and Zubin didn’t sit and watch the news on television but they went out to help. But we want to ask one more question to the self proclaimed social media managers and businesses – where were you when the community needed help?
P.S. If you are in Mumbai & have blood groups O-ve, O+ve, B-ve, A-ve, AB-ve, AB+ve, then please register on www.bloodaid.com for contact. And we are sorry if we have missed any names who helped people, the idea is to create awareness about Twitter. Feel free to post your story in our comments section.