On a personal note, I must say that I have rarely met a group of such dedicated and committed individuals as the main players and apostles behind the SMEM community and who meet via twitter chat every Friday at smemchat.
Some of them met on the eve of the camp in Alexandria, VA.
|From the left: Heather Blanchard, Joel Arnwine, Christine Thompson, Sara Estes Cohen, Jeff Phillips, Kim Stevens and Pascal Schuback
These people put the social into social media. They were friendly, informed and more importantly, willing to share. And share we did.
Over a 100 participants attended the camp and many of those had been at the NEMA meeting and wanted to find out more about this "social media thing" or just desired to learn how to enhance their own emergency management practices using SM.
This post by Kim Stephens gives a great summary of the day's key lessons learned. For my part, the camp's activities provided a good opportunity to learned about how social media is integrated into emergency management practices across the US and what obstacles remain from experienced EM practitioners.
Some observations/lessons then:
from this version: mobile devices and tech + social media platforms = empowered citizenry + volunteers
to this new version: mobile devices and tech + social media = mobilization tools for empowered citizens and data acquisition.
Let me explain this a bit further. It's time that the SMEM community push the acceptance of data supplied through social media and volunteer-based platforms (crisis mapping in particular) to get better SitA/COP. There have been enough instances of extremely valuable information shared to first responders and emergency managers in this fashion, to promote its inclusion in the EM process.
So, events such as the SMEM camp at NEMA are key forums for the spreading of this new outlook on EM. The more we can showcase the benefits of social media, the more generalized its acceptance from EM will follow. And since, this seems to be the case with the most senior people from FEMA, the path should be straightforward.