We are only a few months into a new decade and our world is suffering through the effects of the largest global disaster in generations. COVID-19 has hit us hard, exposing the weaknesses and limitations of our pandemic response. Although healthcare workers do their best to save as many lives as possible, our healthcare systems are burdened by the number of affected individuals and the lack of proven treatments in fighting the virus. How can we improve our response to the Coronavirus?
According to the Red Cross’ World Disaster Report , “Warning and information are just as important as food and water before, during and after the occurrence of an emergency situation.”
Immeasurable damage is being caused by the lack of effective emergency communication to combat the endless tide of false coronavirus information flooding the internet, social media platforms and news agencies.
Misinformation regarding protective measures against the virus have some people believing that drinking hot liquids will kill the virus and prevent infection, or that holding one’s breath for 10 seconds is an effective COVID-19 self-test. The effects of misinformation are far from innocuous and may put people at risk and further spread the disease.
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of misinformation during this pandemic and future crisis situations is having governments deploy a unified multi-channel public warning system capable of sending alerts and notifications containing officially verified information to its citizens and visitors.
In our inter-connected world, the speed that misinformation spreads through the internet, social media and traditional broadcast channels is astonishing.
Governments need multi-channel mass notification to transmit official information to protect populations. A modern mass communication system should provide national messaging to mobile devices, social media, texts, emails and traditional broadcast channels. Social media is now a cornerstone of modern mass communication because its ubiquitous and enables the public to provide instant feedback. SMS (Short Messaging Service) has the capability to reach everyone with a phone and immediately deliver emergency alerts and lifesaving information. The more channels used to transmit public safety information, the more likely it is that residents and visitors will receive the critical alerts and communications they need.
While it may be impossible to stop the flow of all misinformation, modern multi-channel communication systems provide governments and health authorities the capabilities they need to counter and correct trending or harmful fake facts. A steady flow of official communication that reaches all citizens reduces uncertainty, increases trust and helps keep people safe.