Monday, December 27, 2010

New entry in our online project to advance crisis and emergency comms

Amazingly, i'm still finding time to work on my online project with my colleague Barry Radford.
It's for an online community called PTSC-Online and our work can be found in the forums section.

This one is on the growing importance of monitoring social media during emergencies. For emergency managers and BCP professionals but also for traditional media.

Here's an excerpt.  Hopefully that will stimulate some conversations!

Because both the public and traditional media outlets now turn to social media during a disaster, Barry and I would even go so far as to say that the news release as the main emergency information tool is now almost irrelevant. If you can tweet, post Facebooik updates, blog, offer video feeds, audio and video clip and present a truly multimedia offering on your website, why would you need a release? 
The social media platforms will drive people to your website as well as serve as key emergency and crisis communications tools by themselves.
The news release is dead ... especially if you have to wait two or three hours for approvals before you can send it out ... the world in online and mobile ... if your crisis communications planning does not take this into account will fail.
 Therefore, two questions come to mind.
  1. Are your web people available to you on a 24/7 basis and do they have the capability and authority to post critical emergency information for your residents or customers?
  2. Does your organization have the policies in place to make the above happen? 
If the answer to both questions is no, then you will fail in this brave new world.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Having lots of fun sharing!

My colleague Barry Radford and I have embarked on an ambitious project "to advance crisis and emergency communications practices" on the web-based community PTSC-Online.  PTSC stands for Partnership Towards Safer Communities and is a great resources for emergency managers and business continuity planners from Canada and beyond.

Our project has a strong focus on the integration of social media ... not only in terms of delivering emergency information but in all facets of the broader emergency management field.

Those of you who follow what I share from my Google Reader account know that there is a lot of very interesting material out there. Here's the link if you want to see what I normally share:

As I organize my thoughts for our project and really take in the impact of social media on crisis communications and the provision of emergency information ... the following graphic equation comes to mind:

if you adopt this attitude regarding social media ...
 you'll be perceived as this:

But, if you put all the pieces together ... including social media ...
 everything will fall into place ...
 and you'll look like:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First entry into our project to advance crisis and emergency communications practices

Hello Everyone! My colleague Barry Radford and I have posted our first entry related to our ongoing online project on PTSC-Online.

This online community is a fantastic knowledge sharing platform and I have previously written about it.

Barry and I are honoured that our project to share crisis communications and emergency information resources and planning tips, has been selected for support by the PTSC-Online steering committee.

We hope to be able to stimulate exchanges of views and experiences related to the provision of emergency information during a disaster or crisis. Our target audiences are emergency management officials, municipal leaders, first responders and business continuity planners.

We hope you'll visit the site as we populate it with the results of our collective thinking.

The first entry can be found here:

Thanks and we're really looking forward to your comments.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Some lessons learned

Hello Everyone !  I've been reading sections of the DHS Inspector General on FEMA's overall state of preparedness as it relates to Emergency Support Functions ... While this applies to our colleagues to the South ... Some points are interesting and merit attention here.

I particularly like the highlights below ...

In January 2009, ESF-15 began implementing a mandatory,
agency-wide credentialing initiative to ensure that deployed
employees are qualified to perform specific duties in response to a
disaster. ESF-15 has developed a credentialing plan for 46
external affairs positions.  The external affairs cadre is typed and
credentialed at four levels:  trainee, basically qualified, fully
qualified, and expert. The goal is to have 85% of the external
affairs cadre attain basically qualified credentialing standards and
15% attain fully qualified within the first year.
FEMA has adopted several recent technologies to optimize the
dissemination of incident response information to the public.
FEMA uses nationwide social media sites such as Facebook,
YouTube, and Twitter to provide information related to disaster
preparedness, response and recovery.  FEMA has also procured
three Emergency Communication Kits.  These kits are the size of a
medium suitcase and can be carried by a single person, so they are
deployable anywhere people can reside.  These kits are specialized
units with the capability to connect to remote resources while in
the field under adverse circumstances.  The user can establish
satellite or cellular communications that can be used to set up a
mobile office with a scanner, printer, webcam, and laptop.  Other
key technological updates include Deployable Satellite Uplink
Units and a Ready Room, which allows full connectivity for 12
users to field mobile devices

So in three key areas: training, the use of social media and providing the right technology support so the most modern comms channels can be used ... they're making progress ...

I think a similar approach here would work .... train people the Ontario government to the same level of proficiency to ensure they could function effectively whenever called to fill the role of PIO. Ensure that we have common approaches and standards in the use of social media in emergencies and ensure we have the right kit and technology access to do our job !

What do you think ?