Archive Page 2

03
Feb
11

Citizen 2.0

FEMA - 40808 - PDA team in Arkansas

Image via Wikipedia

We put a lot of focus on the use of #SMEM in emergency management, specifically with emergency management’s use of social media technology.  We are developing training and policies for emergency managers so they know how to develop programs and utilize the technology.  We are presenting at conferences and seminars to help get more emergency managers on board.  We are even trying to develop ways to get emergency managers to use standard hashtags.  We have made a lot of headway and are getting a lot of eyes on social media during disasters.  But what about the citizens?  How are we ensuring they are posting reports and using the hashtags?

We need to tackle the discrepancy in the same manner that we tackled the lack of use by emergency managers.  We need to engage citizens and citizen volunteer groups and get them to start using the technology.  I was talking to @metalerik today on twitter.  He direct messaged me about how he was excited to follow me and the SMEM initiative.  I told him, “Great”, and that we would be more than happy to help him along.  Citizen involvement in the overall initiative and local efforts needs to involve citizens.  They are the ones who will either adopt and allow your program to be successful and receiving reports or they won’t be involved.  If they don’t know how or where to report what they see, then they won’t report or you won’t be able to find what they do report.  Your citizens are also who pay your bills so by engaging them and including them in the process you get to show them where their hard earned cash is going and you get to deliver your preparedness message and training right to the source.

03
Feb
11

What’s the internet?

It’s amazing to think how far we have come, notice at the end where the host on the right describes how people used the internet to report being okay. The birth of #SMEM? Thanks to @disaster_guy for the find.

31
Jan
11

Oh definitely, maybe…

A graphic representation of the four phases in...

Image via Wikipedia

When does rhetoric become reality?  Even today after doing so much work to get emergency management and response agencies to pay attention, we are still so far behind in being able to monitor disasters using social media.  This wouldn’t be so frustrating if it was because the technology didn’t exist, was too expensive, was logistically impossible, or any legitimate reason.  It is extremely frustrating because it’s held up for no good reason.  Stop ignoring the writing on the wall (literally and figuratively) and develop a program now.

27
Jan
11

The tides are changing

Logo for the Addicted to Social Media Blog

Image via Wikipedia

It appears that social media is all the rage and the emergency management community is finally taking notice.  People are jumping on board at astounding rates and as a platform, social media is becoming the go-to source for information and news.  This seems to be especially true with twitter.  However, it still seems there are large groups of emergency managers and response agencies that refuse to join in on the conversation.  There are also still people who think that social media should only go one way because of liability or a number of other ridiculous reasons.  The #SMEM initiative (*edit – corrected the name, Thanks Jeff)  is working hard to change this.  The power of social media is certainly in the conversation, the conversation that is happening regardless of your involvement..  We learn more about how to use it every day because we ARE using it.  This is the only way we can develop the policies and practices that have some so freaked out.  My suspicion is that we are still just scratching the surface of it’s abilities and the software is going to continue to develop and become more robust.  This is quickly becoming one of the greatest developments in emergency and disaster response ever and if your missing out on this, than shame on you!

Remember, people are using social media.  Your colleagues are using social media.  Your fellow agencies are using social media.  So why aren’t you?  If you have the opportunity, please attend the #SMEM Camp at the Nema conference in March.  If the people there can’t change your mind than no one can.  And if no one can than you should probably find another line of work because this is a critical form of intelligence and you cannot ignore it.  The camp will be a great starting point for all the people who have concerns about using social media or don’t even know where to start.  It will also be good for current practicioners who are hoping to further develop their skills and learn the latest in trends and use.  You can log on and view from the comfort of your computer but it would advisable that you make an effort to be there and meet the individuals who are on the cutting edge of this technology.  I am a little biased, I am on the work group for this project.  Info for the camp can be found below:

http://www.nemaweb.org/index.php?option=com_rsform&view=rsform&Itemid=416

22
Jan
11

Open Source EM continued…

The scene outside the ground as the disaster b...

Image via Wikipedia

Open source EM can also found in human capital.  Crisismappers, CrisisCommons, and other groups like those can be considered open source.  These groups are generally made up of volunteers who utilize all sorts of free/open source software like Ushahidi and even the teams could be considered open source.  They are groups of technically proficient people who provide a service for free and are organized in a grassroots approach.  In fact this seems to be a new movement in emergency management, grassroots response.  People who are victims of a disaster are going to be the true first responders.  In reality, it’s their response that can have a profound effect on the outcome of events.  If we leverage their eyes and abilities, we can essentially have instant response and scene size up.  Groups like CERT and the Red Cross are training citizens anyways, so if we can find a way to get people to report information and provide a way to organize people right after a disaster than we can really change how disaster response happens.  Groups like the ones I talked about are doing a great job of trying to do this.

20
Jan
11

Open Source EM

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

A few years ago, if you were to suggest using civilian technology for emergency response, you would have been laughed at.  It seems everyone was spending money like it was going out of style, thanks largely to the large amount of grant money.  Everyone had their own mobile command posts, high tech radios, etc…but those times are gone.   The grants have dried up, the costs to maintain the equipment bought with grants is very high, and EM‘s and first responders are doing more with less.  What about doing it for free?

There are now a lot of free software packages and online programs that allow you to do a lot for very little money or no cost at all.  Google docs and groups allow you to collaborate in real time.  They work very similarly to Microsoft sharepoint but are completely free.  EAS systems can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to buy and maintain and now we are finding that free social media services provide better warning and allow for two way communication.  You can even provide free webinar trainings using http://www.dimdim.com (although not for long).  I was a strong advocate of public safety designed gear, and in many cases this is still the case, but I use these free services all the time.  I couldn’t function without them.

14
Jan
11

The two way street

One-way street in New York City.

Image via Wikipedia

An easy to understand metaphor for social media is the two way street. The two way street allows for traffic to flow in both directions fluidly. If you only have traffic flowing in one direction, there is opportunity to flow in the other direction as well. This however is not how many people are using social media. I recently consulted with a large restaurant chain on how they could implement social media into their public relations. I advised them that if they are going to use social media they must being willing to accept traffic both ways. Their concern is something many people have when dealing with communication that everyone will see. They were afraid people may say something bad about them or there would be posts that were offensive or they would get spammed. If you aren’t using social media as a two way conversation, than don’t bother. It’s a waste of your time and people will ignore the information you are issuing. Just build a website where you can control any information going out or into your company or agency and be done with it.

This attitude is very common amongst people who are stuck on the old approach of public relations; that you have to have absolute control over the information going in or out. You can’t have two way traffic on a one way street. You can’t have a conversation if one person isn’t allowed to talk. You can’t successfully implement social media if you aren’t willing to communicate both ways. If people are complaining about something then that means they are paying attention to the info you are putting out! Your getting instant feedback about an experience they are having. This is extremely valuable and ensures customer satisfaction and in emergency management you customers are tax paying citizens who you are assigned to protect! Swallow your pride and aknowledge that you will make mistakes and that people are simply going to spread their bad experience whether you are listening to them or not. If you get that information from them in a post or tweet than you have the opportunity to respond to it and provide your side of the situation and ultimately you have more control over the situation than you would in a one way system. It also looks great when you are responding to complaints because people see your concerned and willing to rectify the problem publicly. This is PR gold!




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