India is the first country to partner with social networking site Facebook on disaster response, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said today. He invited other technology companies to create tailored solutions for disaster-related challenges. Addressing an event on disaster management, Rijiju said technology can be leveraged in providing quick response and information to people in times of need. Rijiju said the world is moving towards partnerships, where people are proactively partnering with the government in responding to disasters. "This partnership is a benchmark and first of its kind.
We are the first government to partner with Facebook on disaster response," he was quoted as saying in a press release issued by the Union home ministry. Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, said that reaching out to the people and communities was the primary responsibility of all stakeholders and efforts should be to make people aware, informed and to guide them during emergency situations. He said community groups and stakeholders need to find innovative ways to inform people on time in scenarios of disaster management. Rijiju was inaugurating the 'India Disaster Response Summit', organised jointly by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Facebook, today on how best to leverage social media platforms to "prepare, respond and recover" for, during and after a disaster. He said that social media affects everybody's life and common sources of communication through social media has played a vital role in day-to-day information communication, which needs to be leveraged in proper direction. Speaking on the occasion, R K Jain, member, NDMA, said the authority is proactively using social media for awareness generation. "This collaboration is a milestone towards integrating social media with disaster response activities," Jain said. Later participating in a panel discussion on the need for effective data analysis and tools, Kamal Kishore, member, NDMA, said that social media can help shape a future where, on the one hand, vulnerable communities become increasingly self- reliant and on the other, government agencies have more powerful tools to get real-time feedback and reach out to people whom they seek to serve. A Disaster Information Volunteers (DIV) programme, wherein a network of trained volunteers would provide supplementary information on disasters in their local communities to assist government relief efforts through the Facebook Workplace platform, was introduced by Facebook Head (Policy Programmes) for South Asia, Ritesh Mehta. The programme will be piloted in two disaster-prone states -- Assam and Uttarakhand, the release quoted him as having said. Facebook will now share its disaster maps, developed using aggregated, de-identified data, with NDMA, it said. These maps can aid swift disaster response by providing real-time, actionable information, the release said.
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