Can social media help clear up the #gulfspill?

Here in Europe we’re a little preoccupied with the volcanic ash cloud but apparently there was a major oil spill over in The Gulf of Mexico. Once again, social media is coming to the rescue.

As we discovered recently, a group of a dozen or so organizations including BP, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Department of Defense, and OSHA have set up Deepwater Horizon Response, a “Unified Command” established to “manage response operations.” This also involves several social media accounts.

And now there’s a theory that if enough people tweet information using the hashtag #gulfspill the environmental mess will clear itself up. OK, perhaps not, but the newly launched Gulf Coast Spill Coalition thinks that using social media to record and share information related to the oil spill can make a difference. And that’s exactly what has been setup to do.

The site was developed with the help of the Scotland-based web development company EdgeCase.

Through Gulfcoastspill, eyewitnesses can log sightings of the spill (oil on beaches, injured wildlife and volunteer activities etc.), recording their position and uploading photos, videos and comments. There’s also, inevitably a tie-in with Twitter and a mobile app for both Android and iPhone. Not a bad effort, I’d say.

The overall aim, says the project, is to “speed recovery by crowd sourcing information and making this information readily available to recovery teams.” Gulfcoastspill expects that its data will be used by emergency teams, wildlife organisations, educational institutions and volunteer groups.