Twitter is a tool used by some to spread ideas, or to “tweet” about things they are doing. For Hurricane Sandy the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, has used the service to direct react to the problems caused by the widespread damage left in Sandy’s wake.
From his Twitter feed Mayor Booker is directing people to message him with problems as they find it, enabling him to finely direct responses. Not only that, but when he was able, he took direct charge, such as this exchange:
— Brett Baker (@bakerb13) October 29, 2012
Thanks. Just left. We were able 2 convince & transport 32 homeless brothers & sisters 2 shelter RT @bakerb13 many homeless by penn station
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 29, 2012
Mayor Booker did not just call up the police, or fire, or send an aide. The man went out in the middle of the hurricane and personally made sure to get those people to shelter.
Bravery like this is nothing unusual for the man. Back in April, he ran into a burning building to save a neighbor. Or during the snowpocalypse during December of 2010, he used his Twitter to guide the snow plows and even took up the shovel himself, just as with Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Cory Booker understands, and embraces, the power of social media. By offering direct access he has enabled rapid responses in a way unimaginable even a decade ago. Immediate feedback and response has resulted in Newark actually being able to weather crisis with less issues than neighboring cities such as Hoboken. We can thank this rapid response for Newark’s Liberty Airport reopening for service before all neighboring airports, as well as the rail service now running again. Thanks to these steps, the restoration of services is ahead of schedule and needed supplies are flowing in to the disaster area.
People around this nation in positions of leadership need to look and understand the lessons found in Mayor Booker’s embrace of social media. There will always be natural disasters. Using social media in this manner can help turn that from a natural disaster, to a human catastrophe.