Emergency Communications: the Power of Social Media

Emergencies require quick response and coordinated actions. Up-to-date information in real time ensures safety and preserves life and safety of people.

February 20, 2024
Photo credit: UNDP in Belarus

Not so long ago, news or warnings about natural disasters and calamities were disseminated mainly through television and radio. However, with the development of digital technologies, new channels have emerged to improve emergency communications and warning systems, making them faster, more reliable and more effective. 

Today, social media is an effective tool for raising awareness and improving emergency response. As of January 2024, more than 5 billion people worldwide (62.3% of the world’s population) were registered on social media.

Social media allows the instant dissemination of important information in real time. On the one hand, emergency services can quickly send out alerts, share updates and safety tips. On the other hand, social media also provides rapid feedback from the witnesses of the events and transmits requests for help.

It is no coincidence that the topic of using social media to effectively promote life safety among the population and prevent accidents in emergencies was discussed at a seminar organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The training was conducted on 8 February in Minsk and gathered the press service representatives from various regional and structural units of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus (MES).

Photo credit: UNDP in Belarus

The participants learned how to create creative and engaging video content. It is considered that videos are the best tool to draw people's attention and deliver information on how to behave in case of fire or traffic accidents, or explain why it is necessary to change tires in winter. Regular reminders about safety rules help to form behavioral patterns and rely on automatic reactions in emergency situations. 

Anastasia Kleban, Deputy Head of the Public and Media Relations Center at the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus, shared that such content resonated with their audience on TikTok and helped significantly increase the audience of followers on Instagram and VKontakte. 

Today, Ministry of Emergency Situations  is working on a strategy to grow audiences across all of its social media platforms. An important element of this strategy will be finding ways to approach people of different ages and genders to create targeted content for each group.

The workshop helped participants better understand how social media can be used for educational outreach or rapid response to emergencies and improve the work of Ministry of Emergency Situations in the regions. 

The event was organized within the project on Adaptation of the emergency response system of the Republic of Belarus to the adverse global epidemiological situation related to COVID-19 implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus and with the financial support from the Russian Federation.