I owe this insight to Nigel Davis of Willis. He showed a slide of recent floods in Thailand during his keynote at ITC 2012. He said insurers were able to make use of YouTube videos and still images from elsewhere to get a handle on the damage.
I'm getting so used to blanket statements about the value of social media to business that I almost don't hear them any more. But Davis had my attention. The floods, he explained, were caused by sudden heavy rain. The cloud cover meant satellite images were useless. Images created by people on the ground were the only way to assess the scene of the damage.
Mobile devices are turning ordinary folks into reporters. They don't need writing skills, an ax to grind or a media outlet to serve. By showing us what's happening in their lives, they can help business – and other organizations – react more effectively, and faster.