December 7, 2015
In developed countries, the radio is used as a means of communication. Back home in Chennai and Coimbatore, we get regular traffic updates on the FM radio stations. A majority of people depend on such updates and plan their road trips. After the Chennai disaster, there is a felt need to effectively use FM for weather updates too.
“Unlike other means of communication that depend on electricity, radio requires minimum power. So the radio can double up as a friend in need during crisis,” Dr B. Muthukumaran, Practice Head, Big Data Research, Chennai.
There is this angst that the flood crisis could have been handled well if communication networks were effectively working. But with the failure in power, networks too could not stop their communication links from snapping. This left the residents clueless about the current situation like levels of water in and around their areas, availability of medical and first aid and relief materiel.
“The area where I live, T. Nagar was cut off without power for three days in a row. My family and I had a terrible time accessing information and updates especially about the weather. We used mobile phones very sparingly as they served the only means of communication and they also doubled up as our only information source. Some of the news and updates received in the form of WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts and tweets were not true. One of the paramount lessons from the crisis is that every citizen should have access to a reliable source of authentic information.” Ganapathy Elumalai, Regional Customer Service Manager of a logistics company, Chennai, says.
Seconding him is V. Rajendran, cyber advocate from Chennai. He feels that the citizens need to have access to an authentic source of information especially at the time of crises. “The Government can use sources like service providers to pass on information about the current situation and developments. FM is one of the best means to do so. Citizens will believe the news or information that is conveyed by the Government,” Rajendran says.
Apart from having access to information in the midst of crises or during an emergency, staying connected at during such times is equally important. “Staying connected with near and dear ones and staying connected with what the developments are equally important. Messages from the Government help a lot at the time of crises.
The Government must ensure that the information that is shared with the masses is authentic,” says Ramesh Bhashyan, independent IT consultant, Chennai. When the Government starts reaching out to the public through various means like FM and SMS through service providers, automatically the dependency on other media will drop.
For Diana John, Senior Customer Service Executive with a logistics company, Chennai, WhatsApp and Facebook are her sources of information. “My friends and I exchanged pictures on WhatsApp,” Diana says.
For sharing of personal information social media wins hands down. However, at the time of crisis when the challenge is conveying authentic information to the masses, the Government has a major role to play. The Government and the people can consider using alternative yet reliable sources like FM, experts added