What if a social media platform was built to help communities become more resilient to disasters?

Posted By:

Ginny Katz, MPH

December 3, 2022

“What if a social media platform was built to help communities become more resilient to disasters?”

This was the question I asked myself in 2017 while trying to get a good picture of my emergency manager boss passionately lecturing on preparing for the Cascadia earthquake to a group of community members. Within the first 10 minutes, the all too familiar “lecture glaze” settled in over the audience and a few of our instructional pamphlets had already been discarded on the floor. While these community engagement sessions are important for public and emergency authority relationship building, it’s been an ongoing challenge to know how effective our information outreach efforts are.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we could count on the small percentage of preparedness-devoted (and available) community members to come to our PowerPoints, pamphlets, cookies, and lemonade. During the height of lockdown and stay-at-home orders, this stopped in its tracks completely for a time. The pandemic highlighted the reality of in-person engagement becoming impossible and the limited digital tools we have to supplement any kind of similar cadence of outreach and relationship building. As the pandemic stretches into the new normal with other disasters, the challenge became the mixing of multiple disaster preparedness engagement topics. Asking people to absorb multiple disaster preparedness lectures at once was overwhelming for both the listener and the presenter.

In reality- we need more than are more than a social media-style platform.

Current social media platforms were not built for the necessary engagement functions and channels that the public and emergency authorities need before, during, and after a disaster. Critical emergency and resilience information should not have to compete with distracting ads, misinformation, and hate speech that could be on a person’s social media feed. We need the “social” aspect to focus on community and relationship building around a focused context, which is different from today’s main platforms. 

This is one of the main reasons we started building HazAdapt. We, the people, need an ethical online space to connect with information and to engage with others about disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

What is HazAdapt?
HazAdapt is a free emergency information and resource tool shared between the public and emergency authorities. Different from a social media platform or communication system, HazAdapt is a place to connect with information and resources and be part of community resilience. 

HazAdapt’s main functions right now are
1) Easy reference for hazard-related safety and resilience information
2) Connections to crisis support and resources
3) Expanding current system capacity to inclusively engage the community  

HazAdapt is a complementary system to current emergency communication systems. The product that is live right now on the web, App Store, and Google Play is our “trustbuilder”. It’s mainly a tool to help people in life-threatening situations. It does not replace 911 or professional response services but it is an excellent supplemental resource if you are unsure what to do and 911 is not available.

Connect to information & Crisis Resources

HazAdapt offers an easy-to-read hazard guide with instructions written in 3rd to 8th-grade reading levels. Once you choose a hazard, you’ll be provided information on what to do if the emergency is happening right now or you can explore preparedness and recovery instructions. HazAdapt a growing list of common and rare emergencies available in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Japanese, German, and Russian (more languages coming soon!)

Make it what you need for your situation

Users can further customize the info in the Hazard Guide to their personal needs including info for kids, elders, disability, pets, farm animals, and wildlife.
Not every emergency needs a 9-1-1 response. HazAdapt helps users find the crisis support they may need by offering local and nationally available

Expanding the emergency communication system with inclusivity and equity

HazAdapt is the world’s first Humanity-Friendly tool for the public good. The Humanity-Friendly standard ensures our tools offer inclusive and equitable support, community-centered service, and humane technology protection.

Traditional emergency communication has been “one-size-fits-all”, which does not fit the reality that disasters affect each of us differently depending on who you are, where you are, and who/what you have with you when it happens. When emergency managers use HazAdapt to support their engagement efforts, they elevate their service to be more inclusive, equitable, and safe for their community to utilize.

Using the HazAdapt Hazard Guide to boost emergency messages YouTube video

People deserve a trustworthy tool they can rely on when the worst happens. We invite you to learn more about how we made HazAdapt Humanity-Friendly as we go into the juicy details in the Humanity-Friendly technology blog series.

More engagement coming soon!

People need to connect with each other and emergency authorities before, during, and after an emergency. That’s 3 different time periods, information styles, and meaningful connection types that need to happen. This is the next big thing coming out of HazAdapt and will not look like the social media systems you know now. The resilience engagement realm is MASSIVE, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the solutions needed. (y'all should see our mile-long “future features” list 😂). Stay tuned as we reveal more about these upcoming tools and how they will revolutionize community resilience.

Adapting together,

HazAdapt Founder and CEO