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The Potential of Widgets in Crisis Management

Posted in: Communication, Man Made Disasters, Online Safety Started by

The Potential of Widgets in Crisis Management

I am not talking about widgets in the context of your grand ma and grand pa. I am talking about web widgets. So what is a web widget?

A web widget is a piece of software or small application that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user. Thus, widgets are on-screen re-useable codes built on DHTML, Java or Adobe Flash.

Some common examples of web widgets are: event countdowns, stop watches, daily weather updates, flight arrival information or whatever you can dream of. Unfortunately, not many are currently being used in crisis management. I want us to change that!

Organisations such as the FEMA and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use web widgets to disseminate information to the general public to enhance public ssafety. I have found their use of widgets to be well-informed and foresighted. Sorry, I can’t say the same of other organisations.

Here are some widgets that are currently in use today by Fema and CDC:
Are you prepared?
Kids Fire Safety
Citizen Corps

Daily Health
Flu Preparedness
Child and teen BMI calculator

Here are 3 ways widgets are currently being used today.

Repackage Information:
By repackaging existing information to multiple users for repeated use, widgets enhance the reach of your messages across platforms during a crisis. For instance, if FEMA creates a flu widget, it can end up on a website in Hong Kong; it does not matter if it is translated into Chinese, it still serves the purpose of advancing public safety.

Deliver information Conveniently
By providing the code to multiple users, widgets enable you to democratise information dissemination. During a crisis, this will be the most effective way to push out updates to the end users. With a simple copy the code and paste operation, that piece of information can reach thousands of other browsers.

Cost-Effective Dissemination of Information
Once an organisation has paid the initial cost of coding, the economies of scale set in as more users use the code without; ie without altering the cost or consumption or production. Long term, it is a very effective way to deliver information to those who need it most.

Here are other areas where you can apply the use of widgets in your organisation: crime statistics, fire fertilities, accident hotspots and so on, medical establishments with on-duty experts, pharmacy on call, taxi availability, ambulance availability and more.