A quick blog post, only, to register my sadness at the news of 2 explosions close to the finishing line of the Boston Marathon, yesterday. I hope that you have not been personally touched by this tragedy.
As you may be aware, I am a (slow but) keen runner and have deep admiration for those that are strong enough – physically and emotionally – to join races. I am neither but I have attended my fair share of races, cheering on from the lines as my husband or friends push themselves and keep going until they reach the finish line. My heart goes out especially to the family of that 8 years old boy, who had come to support his father and lost his life in this senseless event.
I read some time ago, I don’t know where, that when you feel overwhelmed with sad, tragic news, it helps to focus on those helping out. And sure enough, from the very first instant, there were many people helping others. Some ran towards the explosions, others rushed to the hospitals to give blood, many locals offered support to runners unable to make their way home…
Amid the chaos, it was also reassuring to see technology being used to help out. Surely, there were sadistic images being shared on social media, some confusing information about what was happening elsewhere in the city, and unhelpful rumours about who had done it or why. But technology was used in positive ways, as well. For instance:
- As the chips in runners’ shoes continued to track presence, worried friends and family of marathon participants could use the race’s website to check the whereabouts (and, indirectly), the welfare of their loved ones;
- Local residents and businesses used Twitter and other social media channels to offer support;
- Google set up a People Finder page for the event. Those at, or in the vicinity of, the event could let others know that they were safe, and other people could enquiry about the whereabouts of their loved ones;
- While the phone lines were down to prevent the remote detonation of bombs, or too congested because everybody was trying to make a call, people could still use Wi-Fi to update their social media presence and let others know that they were safe;
- The police used the web and various social media channels to broadcast public safety messages – e.g., to keep clear of certain areas.
What other great examples of technology as a source of good did you come across?