What will an emergency 2.0 resilient community look like?
Here are some scenarios of a how a resilient community empowered with the knowledge to use social media would respond during an emergency:
Emergency service/first responder agencies and local governments
Emergency service/first responder agencies and local governments immediately mobilise utilising the power of social media and sms to instantly broadcast and amplify emergency warnings to the public. The multichannel communication approach incorporates mainstream media.
They monitor and actively crowdsource localised information from community agencies and the public via GPS coded tweets, photos, videos and sms messages from community agencies, schools, government, service clubs and the public, displayed on crowdsource maps publicly accessible to all. Emergency personnel on the scene utilise this information to help them pinpoint search and rescue efforts. In turn, they are relaying geo-tagged information updates, images and situation reports back to the operation centre for incident coordination.
Community agencies, NGOs, community groups and service clubs
Community agencies, NGOs, community groups and service clubs have also swung into action, harnessing their ‘connected communities’, liaising with agencies and volunteers to help those impacted by the emergency. They are amplifying emergency agency messages by retweeting and sharing on their social networks. They are following the emergency #hashtag on Twitter and accessing online real-time interactive community maps. In turn, they are also updating these maps and providing local, real-time geo-tagged images and situation reports to their agency counterparts and to emergency services. They are conducting ‘virtual meetings’ using social media channels such as Skype and Google Plus. They collaborate virtually online using realtime documents such as Google word documents, spreadsheets and forms.
Digital volunteers, locally and globally via groups such as Crisis Commons, Humanity Road and Virtual Operations Support Group, are assisting emergency agencies, local councils and NGOs such as the Red Cross, to amplify messages to the public by re-tweeting and sharing Facebook posts. Others are monitoring the emergency #hashtags and emergency agency Twitter feeds and Facebook sites for calls for rescue or help. Other volunteers are verifying tweets, photos, and Facebook messages from ‘citizen reporters’ and adding it to the crowdsource maps.
Government agencies and schools
Government agencies and schools are implementing their emergency communication plans, using a multichannel approach including social media to keep their employees, customers, suppliers and communities informed. Employees are accessing social media sites at work for real-time emergency information and online realtime maps to establish the risk to their homes or their loved ones and to plot the safest route home (or to schools to collect their children). A Twitter feed (including feeds from official agencies) is posted on their website home page. Their websites and social network sites provide links to key emergency agencies websites.
Business are deploying their business continuity plans which include social media channels to provide ongoing information to employees, customers and suppliers. Employees are also accessing social media sites at work for real-time emergency information and maps to enable a safe route home or to evacuation centres. Once home or in a safe place, they make contact and stay in touch via the business internal social media network (eg Yammer) or sms. A temporary remote workforce is established using phone, text, social media and the business internal social network. Virtual meetings are conducted with key staff who can’t get to work via social media channels. They collaborate virtually online using realtime documents such as Google word documents, and spreadsheets.
They protect their homes by following instructions via sms and emergency apps and help their elderly, disabled and vulnerable neighbours. They are sending geo-tagged photos from the scene via SMS and social media to emergency services to help them make critical operational decisions and to notify the public of further dangers.
They are posting messages on their social networking sites and online ‘billboards’ to let their loved ones know they are safe, leaving the phone lines free for emergency calls.
If they need rescue, they are texting a designated help number, using their smartphone app to send an SOS message with their GPS location to emergency agencies or loved ones, or sending a tweet or Facebook message and image with GPS activated to enable emergency services to assist locating them.