Saturday, January 22, 2011

Social media and emergency management: have we reached critical mass?

Recent events and newly published studies have shown beyond any doubt that social media should now be part of all aspects of emergency management planning. From preparedness to recovery, and including emergency information during the response phase, social media platforms now represent a vital component of an EM program. Here's Gerald Baron's take on this.

The recent floods in Australia have really highlighted the role social media can play in the response phase. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide a critical emergency information channels.
This role will only increase as flooding spreads:

The consensus seems to be that Australian emergency services, police, fire and all others, used social media in a very effective manner in the last few weeks.

And in true social media fashion, what we're seeing is not a unidirectional conversation ... but real dialog is taking place where social media users are providing valuable information to emergency managers and authorities. Of course, this means that agencies and organizations involved in the response must monitor those channels and be able to quickly correct misinformation and falsehoods which are bound to be present.

More and more tools are being developed to "mine" the useful data being shared on Twitter or Facebook during disasters. To emergency managers, this adds a whole new level of situational awareness because so many people now have the ability, and the willingness, to share what they're seeing and experiencing.

Now, a year later, the Haiti earthquake provides a whole series of lessons learned. What's being realized in that mobile devices and technologies bring multiple benefits to the analysis that's necessary to plan operations during the response phase and then analyse that response and guide the recovery.

To sum up ... it's an absolute necessity for EM managers and planners to consider the role of social media in bettering situational awareness. For communicators, social media as an emergency and crisis communications tool is now a proven entity. You need to plan for that ,,, prepare and practice.

You can now practice a comms response using social media in a totally safe and off-the-web way with a new product recently introduced that allows you to use Twitter, Facebook, blogs and web posts, to practice your emergency info response.

In a connected world, where mobile devices and social media become lifelines during a disaster, not being ready to exploit those tools is the shortest path to failure.

1 comment:

  1. I agree everything stated in this post. In the Community of Madrid (Spain) are already using social networks and Twitter FB (@ 112Cmadrid) to move our emergency information to protect the citizens.