The scenes of devastation that continue to come out of Haiti after an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale hit the country on Tuesday are truly shocking and heartbreaking. Thousands are homeless, unknown numbers remain trapped in flattened buildings, and Haiti’s President has said that the death toll–as yet unknown–is in the “tens of thousands.” Amid the devestation, it has been amazing to see realtime come into its own as people, organisations, and the U.S. government employ social media tools to respond to this tragic event.
U.S. President Barack Obama is using Facebook (and the official White House blog) as a platform to keep people appraised of government relief efforts, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that text donations for relief efforts have reached $3 million already (text “Haiti” to 90999).
What’s more, there are numerous trending topics on Twitter providing up-to-date information on the latest developments and instructing people how they can contribute (e.g. #yele, #help Haiti, #red cross). News channel CNN has a host of reporters on the ground, yet it’s also relying on its citizen contributors (CNN iReporters) to fill in the many missing pieces. Facebook’s realtime feed on Haiti is also proving a great resource. This crisis is a perfect example of realtime’s ability to bring people together at a time when it’s needed most.