Book excerpt of Ankit Lal’s book ‘India Social’: on “How social media showed its unique power of crowdsourcing during the Chennai floods…
One ingenious resource that was circulated widely during the floods was a crowdsourced effort that mapped inundated roads in the city. Over 2,500 flooded roads were added to the city’s map via social media, which was put together by engineer and information designer, Arun Ganesh.
The Chennai floods were a superb example of the power of collective effort. Users across social media channels came together to offer shelter, food, transport, and even a place for people to charge their phones. SOS messages asking ground teams to rescue stranded family members also went back and forth, and there were many who offered their homes and offices to those who were stranded.
Perhaps the most simple yet effective tool during the floods was the website chennairains.org.
It began as a simple Google spreadsheet. Sowmya Rao was trying to help her uncle and aunt figure out whether it was safe to stay in their house in suburban Chennai or move to a friend’s place. When she found out that the area they lived in was under severe risk of flooding, she relayed the message to them. But she felt helpless about the countless others who were facing the same plight as her relatives. Acting on a suggestion by another Twitter user, she created the Google spreadsheet that went on to become the website chennairains.org.
The idea was simple: crowdsource details about those who could offer shelter, and pass it on to those who were tweeting about rising waters. A hastily put-together spreadsheet soon blossomed into a multi-faceted, volunteer-driven, highly energetic online movement to help Chennai, and ended up being used by the general public, police officers, government officials and celebrities alike….(More)”.