Thursday, October 14, 2010

Social & Digital Help Inspire the World

On October 13th, the eyes of the world were focused on Copiapo’ Chile, a small northern city and site of the trapped miners. The world witnessed an entire 23 hour live feed of the capsule “Fenix II” as it made 70 trips underground to retrieve the 33 miners who had been trapped under ground for 69 days. Every angle of the rescue effort was covered thanks to the utilization of digital technologies. Social media played an integral role building community around the event as well as in sharing live information about the rescue to the masses.

Here are a few of the highlights which caught my attention:

Live Streaming Video from the Mine to the Ground
Early on a web cam and fiber optic cables were sent down a small bore hole to the miners, 200,000 feet below. At earth level the cables connected to a standard PC which displayed and captured live video feeds of the miners trapped underground. The trapped miners created a video of themselves saying hello to their family and singing the Chilean national anthem on August 27, 2010 giving the world and their families hope.

From then on the camera was used for family members to connect with their miners. Psychiatrists and counselors also used the web cam to check in on the emotional and psychological health of the miners.

The evening of the rescue effort, the rescue team used the technology to watch the Fenix II enter the mine to determine how far the capsule went down in order to accurately position it on each descent. They also used it to communicate back up to crew on the ground so they were aware of when the miner was in the capsule in order to know when to begin the ascent. Back up at the top, the video footage was projected onto a large screen so those outside could watch as well.

One of the extraordinary things was watching as the first rescuer, Manuel Gonzalez, made his way to the miners and was greeted with hugs and cheers. It was quite a moving (and historic) moment.

A web cam.

Who would’ve thought it would play such a vital role in the sustained well being of the miners, an inspiration to the world, and such an integral part of the rescue operation.

Live Blogging, Photo Sharing & Video of the Rescue
A number of media sites, such as PBS, HuffingtonPost and WorldNews, used Ustream to stream video broadcast of the live rescue Ustream stated it served 5.3 million streams over the course of the rescue event, making this the most streamed event. (The memorial of Michael Jackson was the prior record holder of 4.6 million.)

Many news sites provided life blog updates of the event. The Chilean Government even set up an official Flickr photostream, the Rescate Mineros' Photostream. Photos started with the early preparations on October 11th, through all miners, to the last rescuer, Manuel Gonzalez and final photos of the press conference.

A quick Google for blogs under keyword Live Chile Miners Rescue yielded 333,293 results. One of my favorites was the Chilean blog, I Love Chile, the only Chilean blog translated to English. Many media and news site kept readers abreast of the updates of each miners rescue via their blogs as well.

Communities Formed to Provide Support & Share
Naturally Twitter fans and followers assembled around an infamous hash tag, the most vibrant one being #chileminers. On October 13th, the community counted down the number of miners brought back. The conversations were positive, encouraging and hopeful.
“@Notashopaholic. 19 miners out now. Just amazing. Humans, I am proud of you today. #ChileMiners

Of the tweets I analyzed using SearchTastic, the reach as incredible – 60 tweets reached 20M followers/impressions. CBS News was a big contributer.

There were also a few communities which rallied together on Facebook. One group, Chilean Miners Rescue Attempt. LIVE, tracked the progress of the rescue effort. The last post I read was from Ireland:
“Congratulations to all the miners on being rescued, God bless you all and I hope you all recover well from your terrible ordeal, and well done to the rescuers your country must be so proud of each and everyone of you. I spent the last 24 hours watching it live from Northern Ireland and am so pleased it's all over. GOD BLESS.”

Another group, entitled Rescue the Chilean Miners, had 480 fans. It’s community mission statement read “We want this page to show the brave miners, their families and their rescuers how much the whole world supports them.”

Hope. Unity. Strength.
The sprit, unity and determination of the Chilean miners, government and rescuers inspired the whole world. Thanks to digital and social technologies, we could participate in and watch this historic human event in real time.


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