Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Capability Based Planning: the Canadian perspective and my reaction.

I've been extremely busy at work and so I have been less diligent in coming up with new posts. Well, here's a couple of quick ideas I'd like to share...

First, I did post a blog entry on PTSC-Online (check out the site if you haven't already). My post reflected by profound dismay at a document I found on a Canadian federal government website. It deals with our version of Target Capabilities List or Capability Based Planning.

One of the section (tab 28) deals with emergency information and warning. Although it's a very thorough document, it seems to have been written for another age with nary a mention of social media. In fact, the whole thing sounds like it could have been written 20 or more years ago.

An example, it still talks about correcting false rumours in the next news cycle. Well, as we all know, in the age of social convergence ... that might as well be an eternity ... Truth is, social networks and 24/7 news channels have made news cycles irrelevant ... if they still exist at all.

The most recent and telling example is having the President of the US forced to make a major announcement late on a Sunday night on the killing of Usama Bin Laden, because the news had first broken on Twitter and journalists had picked it up. Normally, a few years ago, the announcement would have been "packaged" and positioned overnight and delivered some time the next day. Does anyone still believe we have the luxury to still think like that or wait three or four hours before we communicate when an incident occurs?

I'll make this statement I've made before ... the news release is dead as an emergency information tool. It's now relegated to the PR component of any emergency management organization's response where you need to "manage" the public perception of your intervention. More on that from a post by my friend Kim Stephens.

The only way to counter falsehood and dispel rumours today is through the use of social media. That means that every EOC or EIC/JIC absolutely need to integrate SM monitoring it its procedures and operations. This document is totally silent on that.

Section 28 is also irrelevant in a world where more and more emergency management organizations realize that SM should now be part of any emergency information channels used at the onset of incidents. In fact, I'd contend that they should be the first such channels used, alongside any mass notification process/tools, because of their capability to offer immediacy in your communications response. As an added bonus, all media organizations now monitor SM platforms for breaking news, especially from government and emergency management agencies.

I keep hearing arguments such as: we need to have policies, we need to study the impact on our IT, we need more money, training and resources. These are all true but while you're doing your pilots, studies and "strategizing" ... the world is passing you by.

It comes down to this (another of my usual pronouncements) ... to be able to "occupy the public space" at the onset of an incident ... you need a sound crisis communications plan that ABSOLUTELY includes the use of social networks as key emergency information channels.

Can't say it much more clearly ...

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