Thursday, March 29, 2012

#smemto ... a great success and a step forward for SMEM

This blog's author moderating one of the session
Well it's over!  The Social Media in Emergency Management conference in Toronto attracted nearly 200 people from all over Canada to Toronto today (March 29).

The result of a great collaboration between the University of Toronto Emergency Management, Public Safety Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional services (my employer).

A great team effort resulted in a very successful day with strong content and lots of views exchanged. They key as always is providing value for attendees and our speakers did that in spades today. The interest was high enough that participants tweeted throughout the different sessions. So much so that the #smemto hashtag trended on Twitter in Canada at one point. Not bad for a little conference ...

fantonitoabout 7 hours ago
Amazing! "@smackenz: Wow! #smemto 1,100 tweets generated 2,487,984 impressions, reaching an audience of 180,433 followers today."

Some highlights of the #smemto conference for me include: 

  • The joint presentation by Shayne Adamski (@shayneadamski) from FEMA and Chris Stelmarski (@ski) from DHS ... great presentation on the US experience from people willing to share, able to listen ... top notch guys and friendly ... thanks for making the trek North ... great to have you ....take aways
  •     ensure organizational resilience in your SM program ... can't be the job of just one person
  •     maintain strong content on your SM platform and other comms channels to be a destination of choice when a disaster occurs ...

Peter Sloly, deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service wowed the audience with a talk on the use of social media in policing and in our society. Articulate, passionate and engaging, @deputysloly made sure the lunch hour was lively. His words resonated well with the audience:

 Lance Valcour

Another homerun by Deputy Sloly ...although he'd certainly prefer a football (soccer) analogy ... so a great bicycle kick then ...

Another great session was one I had the luck to moderate and which involved smem luminaries Kim Stephens (@kim26stephens) and Jim Garrow (@jgarrow) ... two of the most influential thinkers on SMEM from the US.

Jim talked about crisis comms weaved into a story involving the Rocky Horror Picture Show ... now that's a feat !  

Kim dived into her deep knowledge on the use of social media as recovery tools in Joplin and other disasters.  It was a joy to share the stage with them.

I'm very grateful that they both decided to visit Toronto for this conference and add to the excellent content and line up of speakers we had for #smemto. 

Great people with great minds ! 

There were other very interesting sessions on social media for first responders and interoperability for example: with the TPS delegation: Scott MIlls (@GraffitiBMXCop), Tim Burrows (@t_burrows) and Nathan Dayler (@PSUDayler). They were joined by Lance Valcour from Citig (@lance_valcour) and Doug Allport (from MASAS), in a session that went from the very tactical application of SM to the strategic use of SM and data mobility/transferability using MASAS and the need for operational/functional interoperability. 

In all a great day, in a great venue (thanks to David Black from the UofT) with great content ... there were many highlights not listed above ... I do feel a bit of personal satisfaction at having had a hand in this great step to promote the acceptance of social media in emergency management in Canada.

Looking forward to the second conference ... when ???

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Presenting to police leaders on SMEM

I"ve just completed my presentation on the use of social media in emergencies and crisis comms at the SMILE (social media in law enforcement) conference in Vancouver.

Lots of positive feedback and request for more info ... so here we go. A few links below:

the presentation for SMILE:

tips on the use of SM in EM:

a fuller presentation on SMEM with videos:

a presentation on crisis mapping and crowdsourcing

Hope these help ...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My guiding principles to the use of social media

I've put together a presentation on the 10 key principles that guide how I approach and how I view the use of social media in crisis communications and emergency management. 

Hope you like it. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two very different tales of social media listening

Over the last few days, I've been thinking about the need for any organization to monitor social media both in routine and in crisis situations. I'd like to highlight two very different approaches ... one that works and the other, well ... that is totally sub-standard.

Let's start with the easy one. I'm a user of the transit system in the Toronto suburb where I live. I've been a transit rider all my life. We have a car but my wife drives it and i don't believe I should get one so it can sit all day at the commuter train station. So, that means I take Oakville Transit ... which in my humble opinion (and I've lived in Montreal, Toronto, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Timmins among other places) has the worst service I've ever experienced.

These tweets show my recent frustrations: 

patricecloutier  There must be a by-law prohibiting hiring smart ppl at #oakvilletransit ... Or those who can tell time or read a schedule
1 day ago  

patricecloutier  idiots at #oakvilletransit never cease 2 amaze me. we sit for 15 minutes and when the next train pulls in, The bus leaves with ppl running
1 day ago  

sail0rchan  Why are most bus drivers asses? Especially when they're late and make you miss your next bus. #OakvilleTransit
1 day ago  

patricecloutier  Yet another day where the idiots at #oakvilletransit are doing their utmost to ruin my sunny disposition ... Worst public service ever ...

Now, you'd think that after a few months of this, someone at Oakville transit would have contacted me ... but nada ... total silence ... and I'd be willing to listen to them too ...So no social media accounts listed on their 1990s era website ... no real engagement ... I can't even tweet back and forth with them.

Now contrast that with Via Rail ... which a few weeks ago dealt with a tragic train derailment that cost three employees their lives. I blogged on this incident in the hours that followed.

I followed the twitter feed as soon as I learned about the accident and commented on it:
Although in took Via Rail about 3 hours to update their website and issue a news release ... they did put out a constant stream of info on their Twitter account ... more importantly, they were LISTENING and engaging in real-time with people all over the world. That helped them keep a good handle on the threat to their corporate reputation:

 So they contacted me directly ...engaged me when they thought they could benefit from it ... by helping me realize that they were indeed "on the ball" ... at least through their use of social networks. In fact, others came to their defense and that's also something we see often:

  can't report until the investigation is filed.

So, I then did the only thing I could do. I amended my original criticism to adopt a more positive tone and recognize they were doing some things right (hey ... I can admit when I'm wrong !):
 What's the take-away from this story? Engagement pays off ... first and foremost. The benefits of listening on social networks cannot be overstated.

Second, you can't react to a crisis by starting to monitor SM if you don't do it in routine situation can you engage realistically if you're not present most days? would people find you in an emergency? 

Finally, you show that you're genuine, engaged and responsive and generally of good faith and people WILL stand up for you.

Now, that good will can only be counted upon if you're a trusted source and truly social in your use these communications channels.