Centralising information flow

As forecast, the weather improved slightly yesterday.

His Majesty The King remains in the south and on the ground, personally assessing and leading protection, relief and recovery works. We can ask for no better example of leadership.

We can also see that the Prime Minister is very closely involved going by his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He has used social media to provide the public and media with useful information during this difficult time.

Likewise, agencies such as the Royal Bhutan Police, the Road Safety and Transport Authority, and the Department of Roads, were also updating their social media accounts and equipping the public and travellers with information they needed to know.

Individuals also took to social media to provide a steady stream of updates on situations from all over the country.

Some of these sources of information were then used by media outlets to further disseminate and inform the public.

The nature of such disaster events are their unpredictability.

Landslides can happen anywhere and at anytime. Similarly, we cannot tell when roads and bridges will be washed away. As a result, traffic can be disrupted.

Some commuters complained of lack of coordination and misinformation along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway resulting in long waits and cancelled trips. Again, conflicting or delaying information is understandable given the unpredictable nature of such events.

And while social media was used to disseminate information, there is still room for improvement.

What has become clear is that there is a need for one central source of information.

This single source could be a team that compiles information being provided by various agencies engaged in the field. This information can then be provided to the public and the media on a real-time basis.

This would prevent contradictory information from being disseminated to the public. A central hub would be able to clarify if a road is in fact closed or open to traffic.

By providing a real-time map of events occurring in the country to the public, there would be less confusion and more informed decisions being made, on whether to stay put or risk travelling.

One single team or division would also be able to compile all the different notifications and have them available on one platform, such as warnings to stay away from rivers and streams, or measures to follow to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases.

We have found a positive way of using social media. Now, we only make our use of it more efficient.

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