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See how Facebook and Cisco use technology to provide vital data when crises emerge.

Social media has become a crucial tool during times of global crisis. Many social-savvy users have flocked to digital hubs like Twitter to crowdsource information during disasters. Mashable reports that Facebook is releasing "Disaster Maps," the social media giant's method to use aggregated data in disaster areas to deliver information to the proper organizations.

Facebook announced Wednesday that their goal is to discover where affected communities are located, what resources are needed, and the places people are moving towards.

Cisco's Tactical Operations team functions in a very similar way—TacOps support first responders during times of crisis, providing free and secure communication networks.

When Hurricane Matthew—a category 4 storm with 145mph winds— hit in late 2016, TacOps moved into affected areas in North Carolina. Outfitted with resources like their Network Emergency Response Vehicles and Emergency Communications Unit Trailers, the team was able to provide secure networking and communications to emergency management staff, 911 operators, and regional search and rescue teams. Overall, TacOps supported more than 15GB of data across first responder organizations over 24 hours.

There have been 35 TacOps deployments in 13 countries on every major continent, with 350 volunteers from Cisco's Disaster Incident Response Team. It takes this team only 30 minutes to set up a secure network on location.

Crises like Hurricane Matthew truly show the importance of communication. Cisco continues to learn to ensure that the engineers and operations coordinators that comprise TacOps are always prepared for disaster environments. Technology can revolutionize how we respond in times of need, and Cisco makes sure the proper communication and networking channels are always up and secure so that data can go where it needs to be.  

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About Stephanie Chan

Stephanie Ellen Chan is the Editorial and Video Producer at Cisco. She has a passion for writing about the intersection of culture, media, art, and technology.