I had to skip a flight to Lapland for giving a presentation due to the volcano eruption in Iceland – first force majeure for me. Due to curiosity, I’ve been keeping an eye on the phenomena from the social media point of view. It is obvious that once again social media is playing an important role here for disaster recovery.
Especially real-time reporting and data has become increasingly important. Twitter and real-time mashups turn out to be most useful on the real-time web side. Various online communities on Facebook and elsewhere are providing solutions and support for those who are still out there. Events like this could be tremendous opportunities for companies customer support departments to listen and react accordingly and provide some relief to crowded phone support lines.
Most important tags for following the volcano related information on Twitter are #volcano, #ashtag, #getmehome and #roadsharing. Here is a chart that shows that the conversation is still going strong with #ashtag (started by twitter user Angry Britain at approximately 7:31am on Thursday 15th) and #getmehome rising as of sunday:
Volcano-stranded travelers have turned to social media for alternative transportation, accommodation and other support.
On Facebook, writer Tod Brilliant organized his own Facebook group “When Volcanoes Erupt: A Survival Guide for Stranded Travelers” (531 members as of writing) a moment after he and his wife Andrea Barrett – who is 31 weeks pregnant – found themselves unable to fly home to California from London’s Heathrow airport after a wedding. The group features country specific advice.
Carpool Europe (1575 members as of writing) on Facebook helps people to find a ride in Europe.
Stuck in Helsinki – accommodation during the ash cloud (250 members as of writing) is providing a channel for those stranded in Finland.
Dohop.com travel search site organized an interactive Google map mashup of the ash plume showing aiport status.
On the real-time data side, Radarvirtuel.com shows airplane traffic and the ash cloud on a real-time map.
Various Airlines are helping their customers on Facebook and Twitter regarding the issue. Good job so far by airBaltic (33 300 members as of writing) with ongoing updates on the issue. The finnish arline Finnair is not doing as well, with only some official updates on Facebook (7500 members as of writing) and no real support. Finnair’s Twitter account is also completely silent.