Monday, June 9, 2014

Social media in the EOC or the incident CP ... a look at what could be.

I've written in the past about the need for organizations to operationalize social network listening during incidents. It's become an absolute imperative. But how do you actually do it? What tools can you use to make it an effective addition at the incident command post and/or the EOC? 

In the first one in a new series of posts, I'll take a look at how command staff can make the most of social convergence in emergency management.

It starts at the scene. Today, there are tools that would allow any response leader to know what's on the social sphere when showing up at an active shooter situation, a large urban fire or some industrial accident. 

Case in point, the San Mateo pipeline explosion in California a few years back. It took a while for firefighters to realize there was no plane crash but that the pipeline blew instead. A look at Twitter might have told them right away. Listen to about 50 seconds into this video.

A tools such as Geofeedia might be a good one to have on a tablet in first responders vehicles. Any incident commander (I/C) could have a quick look to see what's up on social networks around the site.

Lets take a look at what the other command positions could be doing with socially convergent tools as the incident grows bigger. 

The Liaison Officer (LO) could start a group on Twitter and send out info that way. Or the LO could use Yammer or a private Facebook page to ensure inclusive comms where info could flow.

The Safety Officer (SO) could use Foursquare or even Google+ as a way to keep track of personnel and share relevant info via mobile devices. The SO could use Pinterest to post notices and other safety-related items. Again, this shows tablets or smartphones are a must for responders of any kind now.

The Public Information Officer (PIO) can use of combination of social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Youtube,etc) to send out info as he and the I/C decide on what needs to be communicated. They could even harness the power of mobile alerting through tools such as Ping4 Alerts! and similar apps. The role of PIO is evolving fast!

The Intelligence Officer (IO)  (OK ... to me it's a command function ! ) could use a laptop or a powerful tablet to set up an incident-specific mobile social media listening dashboard. Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and a few others come to mind. They have the ability to track hashtags, do geo-fenced searches and much more. It's a definite priority in my mind.

All this to say that technology exists to start this almost as soon as any incident emerges. No need to wait for a full EOC set up or a full fledged social media command centre to be set up.

What needs to happen though is procedures to be written, training to be thought of and given ... but more importantly for minds to be opened ! 

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