--Julian Hunt is Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology and the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre. Joy Pereira is Deputy Director of SEADPRI, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The opinions expressed are their own.--
The UN Climate Change Summit in Qatar will be negotiating levels of funding for adaptation against climate change. Social media, which can reduce impacts of disasters through community involvement and improved real-time management, must receive effective and rapid use of such funds.
Social media is increasingly joining public broadcasts and targeted radio messages as a means for central organisations, including government, to communicate forecasts and advisory information to people in affected areas ahead of a disaster, and effective advice during and after one.
Satellite observations and computer predictions may make accurate real-time forecasting of factors such as wind, waves and flooding possible several days ahead of the tracks of tropical cyclones, but, as with Nagi, which devastated Burma in 2010, thousands of casualties can occur in the poorest remote communities because there are no telecommunications providing warnings based on them. Many countries are now strengthening the structures that support such communication systems.
The Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards in Manila is using mobile phones during the course of disasters in the Philippines to allow expert centres to receive informal observations from individuals.