Tuesday 9 August 2011

Crowdsourcing & Social Media Help Heal UK Communities After Riots

The British media is focussed on only one story today; the riots which started on Saturday 6th August escalated across various parts of London as well as other cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. The police are having to continue their investigations and emergency services dousing the raging fires, and attending to those injured, amidst continuously repeated incidents. Underneath all this, fractured and still angry communities are rallying together to clean up their neighbourhoods and making use of social media and crowdsourcing to find help with this thankless task.

The Big Clean Up

With certain media outlets focussing on how social media and instant messaging was used to rally scores of thugs to carry out precision attacks, it seems that it has been reclaimed for a more positive use. Using the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter, local residents putt out the call for help in clearing away the remnants of the devastation. Melted wheelie bins, burned out cars, and assortment of other debris scatter the streets of areas hit by the riots, but there are simply not enough people to help due to work commitments and the difficult task of clearing up their own wrecked homes and businesses. 

The response has been overwhelming with a website established to provide those who are able and willing to help, with information as to what can be done. The #riotcleanup tag  is awash with offers of help as well as messages of support boosting morale for those with rolled up sleeves and in the thick of it. Labour politician John Prescott, actor Simon Pegg and writer/comedian Graham Linehan have all been on Twitter making sure the message is continuously spread with regular tweets and updates. 

Police & Social Media on the Hunt

Whilst there is some indication of understanding as to the situation which led to the riots, the perpetrators it seem have incurred the wrath of much of the UK and the communities caught in the crossfire of hurled debris and petrol bombs. 

So that the public can help in the capture of those involved in the riots, police have posted CCTV stills of suspected rioters and looters on their flickr stream asking people to look through them and call if they recognise any of the individuals. The page has been circulated throughout Twitter by users and it seems that "Catch a Looter" has become one of the UK's top trending topics. It is too early to indicate whether or not this is proving a success, only time will tell. 

In what has been one of the darkest days for the UK and its citizens, social media and crowdosurcing have mobilised people in a singular display of compassion and humanity. It proved to be a symbol of defiance in the wake of wanton destruction and violence by thugs seemingly intent on causing chaos. It also provided some iconic images more likely to be associated with the riots than the all to familiar scenes of destruction. 

Image Credit; edufiend.com

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