Chennai floods: NDRF uses social media to reach out to people

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New Delhi, Dec 4: Deployed in rescue and relief operations in flood-hit Chennai, NDRF personnel are using social media and the internet to reach out to those in distress with a desk here working 24/7 to ensure that the affected people receive help.

A small office desk at the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) headquarters here has picked up over 1,000 strands of vital information on social media and internet and is posting responses to those requesting help.


The Information Technology wing of the force, which is being manned round-the-clock by a posse of over a dozen NDRF personnel, is posting assurances to every SoS call made online in the wake of the flood crisis in the southern metropolis.

Thus, the force is responding with messages like 'noted', 'we will do the needful', 'will do our best possible', 'noted and passed to field teams' and 'pls provide full address' to calls for help by Chennai dwellers.

NDRF chief OP Singh is getting hourly updates on his personal mobile phone about the social media response of the force and has also instructed the team to ensure that "each and every" tweet, email, Whatsapp message, SMS or phone call is acknowledged.

"We have been getting these messages for the last three- four days... initially, we used to pick the information and send it across to our field units in Chennai and Arakkonam for immediate action, but I thought we need to personally assure the people who either seek help themselves or on behalf of their family or friends. "

Half the battle is won when our official twitter handle or email says 'noted', which is an assurance to say that we are working on the distress call.

The person on the other side feels he or she is being heard and cared for," Singh said before taking a special flight to the southern state for a review of the situation there. The 12,000-strong force, at the latest count, had received and responded to 339 tweets on its official handle '@NDRFHQ' or through '#NDRF' along with 501 emails, 613 phone calls and 13 messages on Whatsapp.

A further 200 such messages are being replied to, it was learnt.

"We pick up information from all social media avenues and immediately send it to our field teams, manned by two DIG rank officers in Tamil Nadu, in an Excel sheet format via the V-SAT system activated exclusively for these tasks," a senior NDRF official said.


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