Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn


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:


Ipads and smartphones

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Ok, I know when to say when.  I was wrong.  A few months ago, after using an ipad, I decided that they couldn’t really function in an emergency management role.  I assumed that because responders and emergency managers beat the crap out of equipment that the ipad would not survive use at an emergency scene.  I was wrong.  It’s getting used, a lot.  There is a lot of software that has been developed for it.  I was wrong.  The android platform hasn’t quite made it to a tablet yet.  That’s going to change.

There is a great discussion going on the IAEM group on LinkedIn regarding the use of smartphones and tablets.  I was really surprised at how ingenious some agencies are when it comes to using specially developed software and the use of off the shelf software on these devices.  A great point that was brought up is that no matter what you install on whatever devices you choose to use, be sure you know how to use it.  An emergency situation is not the time to learn software or how to use your device.  With that said, I again concede that Ipads are changing how information gets used and created during an emergency.  It’s all very new though and things are changing rapidly.  Who knows what the next revolution will be.  It seems that every week something new comes out and changes everything.  We as emergency managers need to watch tech trends as closely as we watch trends in emergency management.


Social Media Is Here To Stay

Integrated Emergency Operations Center (IEOC)

Image via Wikipedia

It’s no longer a fad or a something you may want to start considering.  There is now quantifiable data to prove that social media is not an option, it’s a requirement.  At the Red Cross “Social data and emergency communications” summit, they discussed some startling statistics from a recent study on civilians use of social media during an emergency.  The data is clear, people consider social media a means to contact emergency responders and even more unsettling is the fact that they consider it an alternative to 911.

Why is this concerning?  To start with, we as a profession and in our volunteer roles are far behind the average citizen when it comes to social media.  As agencies and organizations, we have no resources currently in place to dedicate to deal with the influx of social media.  Here is a prime example of what I am talking about:  Citizens are expecting a response within an hour or less if they post an emergency situation to a agency facebook, twitter, or email account.  How many agencies have the means to monitor this?  It is extremely important to explicitly explain that 911 is the only way to guarantee a connection to an emergency communicator. Dispatch centers are dreading the day they have to start answering text messages!  Now they have to keep an eye on twitter, facebook, email, in addition to the normal lines of communication they have deal with regularly.

Another reason to be concerned is that many agencies, most probably, haven’t developed plans or assigned a person to ingest data.  All the public information officer course I have taken did not address how we should be dealing with the flow of information in.  There are a lot of programs out there to help track and respond to social media “trends” and incoming data but there are very few standards in place to help organize and utilize this information.

The good news is that despite the fact that we are so far behind citizens have been quick to help out during disasters.  It’s very empowering to citizens to be able to have a way to get information out during an emergency and many tech savvy people have offered their help to get that information through to responders.  So the logical next step is to find these people and develop relationships and plans so that we don’t hope that an ad hoc system will develop during a disaster.  With preplanning we can immediately begin to ingest these data streams and create two way communications during disasters.