ReadWriteWeb has a great story on the impressive mashup of social media tools the RedCross is using to engage with flood victims in the midwest.
The newsroom site runs off of WordPress, and it’s being used to push out press releases, media, and information about shelters. The Red Cross is using Utterz to post audio reports from the field, Flickr for photos and YouTube for videos, as well as a Slide-powered slideshow widget that allows anyone to upload photos of disaster areas. The site also features a Google Maps mashup that depicts the surprisingly large number of relief operations currently being run by the American Red Cross (hint: click the "view larger map" link, because viewing the informative popups inside the widget on site is next to impossible).
I find this a particularly poignant trend marker. When lives are in the balance, social media shines as a more effective way to connect people than traditional tools like print, radio and television. Social Media enables many-to-many communication that allows citizens to notify each other and authorities of danger zones, people in need of help, and available resources. It’s simply a far more efficient and effective means of communication. It’s only when budgets, rather than lives, are in the balance that the usefulness of social media comes into question.