On a typical day, we use our cell phones to read and respond to email, check social media profiles and access bank accounts, but what have become routine tasks only scratch the surface of what these small but powerful tools provide. Our reliance on technology has grown to the point that personal communication devices are not luxuries, but necessities and the difficulties one encounters when a device isn’t working can be an inconvenience at best and life threatening at worst.
According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the disruption to New York’s power grid has many calling the post-Hurricane Sandy situation “charge-pocalypse.” The article recounts stories from Twitter describing resourceful New Yorkers who have found creative ways to cope. Some have charged their phones at businesses with power, crossed boroughs by foot to plug into energized electrical outlets, charged their phones in cars or used one of the many public charging hubs that have been set up in the city by thoughtful companies and private citizens to assist those coping without electric service.
Digital Trends confirms the latter noting, “Thousands of people in New York are still without power, but mobile stations are popping up around the city to give those in need an easy and free way to charge their phones.”
Hurricane Sandy wrought such damage that the full restoration of power service is being estimated in weeks not days, which is forcing those in need to seek alternative methods of obtaining electricity to power their technology for the near future. Several businesses, including New York-based PR agency Affect, are working to connect firms and organizations with power and provide temporary office space to displaced professionals through programs such as PRHelpingPR. Businesses and people have come together to ensure that everyone stays connected.
This underscores how our reliance on technology is not only demonstrated through a basic human need to interact with others, but also to the critical importance of staying informed. According to USA Today, social media outlets give people that ability, even when phone lines are down and the power is out.
On Oct. 29, Radian6, a social media software developer noted, “Over the past seven days, Sandy has generated well over 3.4 million mentions across Facebook and Twitter.” According to Radian6, social media users have become reliant on Twitter and Facebook to locate emergency shelters, follow local news and weather updates and connect with friends and family. In addition, elected officials, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, are using Twitter to provide timely and important updates to tri-state area residents.
Our increasing reliance on technology is often the cause for critique; however, the same electronics we use for pleasure and entertainment have proven invaluable in times of emergency. Instant access to news and information can save lives and help communities recover. Twitter and Facebook have become sources for news and weather updates for those in need. We are a more connected society, and Hurricane Sandy has proven the tremendous importance of that connectivity.
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