How Mumbaikars used Twitter and Google to coordinate help during the terrorist attack

How Mumbaikars used Twitter and Google to coordinate help during the terrorist attack

Summary: The citizens of Mumbai come together and use the Internet to help coordinate support for victims of the 07/13 Mumbai terror attack. Crowd sourced map, helpline spreadsheet, blood requests and traffic details guide people through another tragedy.

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A few hours ago, the city of Mumbai was in a frenzy. Three bomb explosions at different locations caused panic in the city reminding us of the dreadful incidents the country has seen consistently.

It is hard not to get into the politics around the incident while writing this but the social and web once again showed how people can come together to help each other while the authorities keep making statements. At approximately 7 PM, Wednesday, July 13 reports of two bomb blasts started spreading on Twitter. The News channels were quick to get their cameras on location. How many bombs have been planted, are modes of public transport targets, what is the intensity of the attack were questions that raised fear.

A Twitter friend from another city is in Mumbai and was near one of the targeted locations, she asked on Twitter what should she do. (She safely reached a relative's place with the help of a cop.) Frantic phone calls to friends and family were being made. Others suggested to use SMS or BBM to avoid crippling the mobile network. The cops sent out messages using SMS asking people to remain calm and indoors. By now we've become good at post-explosion steps. Technology enthusiasts decided to do their bit. Nitin Sagar (@nitinsgr) Product Manager at Map My India (GPS and mapping company in India) created a public Google Spreadsheet to collate helpline numbers. Twitter users added their details to help the affected. As he states, he started the spreadsheet with 5 phone numbers, through Twitter and Facebook there were more than 200 contact numbers within a few hours.

On Twitter, citizens near the blast areas started giving their contact numbers for those who're stranded and looking for shelter. People of India tagged their shock, support, rage, blood requests as #MumbaiBlasts on Twitter. Police help line numbers were tweeted and retweeted by News agencies and citizens. A freelance journalist from the UK closely followed the developments with an advanced Twitter search filtering results within 20 Miles of Mumbai (the results will be the latest updates not what was during the attack) and was fascinated at how citizens were teaming up with the power of Twitter to help each other. It was indeed fascinating. Meanwhile, Ajay Kumar setup a map to visualize and monitor developments using Ushahidi (an open-source interactive mapping tool). The crowd pitched in from across the world according Kumar. Moderators and volunteers from US, Canada, Germany and other nations helped update the map. A screenshot of the map:

Twitter India with 173,000+ followers shared steps on how to follow what's happening. BloodAid India kept updating us with blood requirements at hospitals, a request for B- blood at a hospital was retweeted by more than a 100 people.

As time passed, focus from hospitals shifted to guiding people through traffic. Users on Twitter kept updating traffic density across the city.

The power of social, the inability of the governments. Interviews tomorrow will celebrate the spirit of Mumbai. We should be proud, the city did good.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

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5 comments
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  • RE: How Mumbaikars used Twitter and Google to coordinate help during the terrorist attack

    i am an indian living in the USA and this is awesome :D
    Viper589
    • No heart?

      @Knix96 I think you should be a little sensitive to the people who lost their lives, who were injured and the many more who lost their day jobs because of the incident. It is offending to celebrate [your smiley hurts] when it was a time of pain and shame. Shame on the terrorists and shame on Indian politicians who lack the will to kill all the bloody terrorists and all the while pain for the common man
      browser.
      • RE: How Mumbaikars used Twitter and Google to coordinate help during the terrorist attack

        @browser.

        hey i am as sad as the next guy but this is a tech site if you wanna cry go to CNN and my awesome was about how tech was used to help everyone in need of the crisis...
        Viper589
  • RE: How Mumbaikars used Twitter and Google to coordinate help during the terrorist attack

    People in India die and we enjoy our twiter and google awesomeness.
    paul2011
  • How Mumbaikars used Twitter and Google to coordinate help during the terror

    A lot of people were saved and also not left stranded in the afflicted areas thanks to 'Twitter and Google awesomeness' - While we mourn the loss of lives and the beating the city took, crying doesnt solve EVERYTHING. Instead of simply watching it happen in front of our eyes and not being able to do ANYTHING about it, thousands used the power of media, to put people in touch. To help those in turmoil and while it can not give life to the dead, the acts of kindness by strangers on the internet is commendable.
    punkpolkadots