Help shape public policy globally on using social media for disaster resilience

SocialGoodSummit_Logo_2013_bIt is exciting to see new technology and social media starting to become part of the public policy conversation around the globe as countries and governments look to how they can improve resilience to disasters. In this post we report on the US
Congressional Hearing on Emergency Management 2.0, Australia’s public policy conversation, the G8 Open Data Charter, the G-Everyone conversation and the 2013 Social Good Summit. It is our hope that we can learn from each other and join
together to help accelerate public policy globally on using social
media for disaster resilience.

US Government Congressional Hearing on Emergency Management 2.0

The United States Government recently took the policy conversation a giant leap forward by holding a Congressional Hearing entitled “Emergency MGMT 2.0: How @SocialMedia & New Tech are Transforming Preparedness, Response, & Recovery #Disasters #Part1 #Privatesector”.

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications held a hearing on 4th June to ask for input from the private sector. Google, The Internet Association, Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), British Gas (contact EON here) and Palantir Technologies, were represented on the panel and submitted written testimonies.

The use of social media and new technologies in Hurricane Sandy was discussed as well as more recent disasters such as the Oklahoma Tornado. Key Learnings included:

  • People want to find critical information through familiar technology
  • Mobile technology is a game changer
  • The public want to be connected and involved
  • Crowdsourcing can enhance both quality and timeliness of critical information
  • The need for open data – emergency information should be available online in open formats and with open licences before a disaster
  • Deployable 3G/4G networks as well as mobile device charging stations should be a priority in the aftermath of a disaster

The video and written testimonies are available on the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security site. We have added this link to the Emergency 2.0 Wiki library under Public Policy Papers and Discussions.

Part 2 of the Subcommittee Hearing, asking for input from the government and NGO sector is planned for 9th July.

Social Media in Times of Crisis Forum – Australia

Australia’s public policy conversation was instigated in April by public think tank Eidos Institute, who brought together emergency management, government, nonprofit, business, research, political, policy and media leaders to share ideas in a bid to shape public policy on this important issue.  As featured in an earlier blog post, the Emergency 2.0 Wiki presented on how a whole of community approach to using social media in times of crisis increases its effectiveness.

We provided a local, national and global perspective on how a ‘whole of community approach’ was successfully applied, showcasing New York City’s social media response to Hurricane Sandy and drawing on examples from this year’s Queensland floods and Victoria bushfires.

Our key recommendations for a ‘whole of community’ approach to using social media in times of crisis were:

  1. Provide tools and the platforms to help the public help themselves, each other and emergency services and official agencies eg emergency apps, crowdmaps
  2. Educate the public on how to use social media to help themselves, each other and emergency services
  3. Engage in two way communication – ask the public to help
  4. Engage digital volunteers

You can find videos of the presentations and panel discussions at the Eidos Institute Vimeo channel. The conversation is continuing via the Eidos Institute LinkedIn Group ‘Social Media in Times of Crisis’, and a report will be released soon. We have added the Vimeo channel link to the Emergency 2.0 Wiki library.

G8 Open Data Charter
G8 Open Data Charter

G8 Open Data Charter

An exciting outcome of this year’s G8, the annual summit of the heads of government of the world’s eight largest economies (US, UK, Canada, Germany, Russia, France, Italy and Japan), on 18 June, was the G8 Open Data Charter. As was highlighted during the US Government Congressional Hearing on Emergency Management 2.0, open data plays a critical role in information dissemination in an emergency. Google Vice President of Technology for Social Impact, Matthew Stepka highlighted this in his written testimony:

“Information dissemination in an emergency depends on several factors: open and interoperable formats for emergency data, timely release of such data and location awareness. Without these, it is extremely difficult to get the right emergency information to the right people at the right time,” Mr Stepka said.

The G8 Open Data Charter outlines the following key principles for access to, and the release and re-use of, data made available by G8 governments:

  • Open Data by Default
  • Quality and Quantity
  • Useable by All
  • Releasing Data for Improved Governance
  • Releasing Data for Innovation

While some of these governments had already made commitments to open data (eg the US and the UK), the signing of the charter by the G8 sends a powerful global message. You can download the Open Data Charter on the Gov.UK site. We have also added this link to our library.


G-Everyone3-07-2013 10-33-47 AMIn the leadup to the G8 Summit, G-everyone, a world first global online public conversation event was held on 10 June to discuss how technology, innovation and online communities can help build ‘open economies, open governments and open societies’ (the theme of G8).

An initiative of the partners of the Social Good Summit –  Mashable, 92nd Street Y, United Nations Foundation, Ericsson, U.N. Development Programme , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with Ashoka, the digital #GEveryone conversation took place on Twitter, Google+ Hangouts and the Plus Social Good  site with key themes tabled to the G8 for consideration.

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki participated in the Twitter conversation, highlighting the importance of online communities to disaster resilience and the importance of accessibility.

While the topic of community resilience didn’t make it onto the themes tabled to the G8 (it was a broad global agenda) we believe it was important that we joined the conversation.

Social Good Summit 2013

SocialGoodSummit_Logo_2013_bThe Social Good Summit 2013, a global conversation with leading experts, advocates and innovators about how social media and technology can help address some of the world’s biggest challenges, will be held on 22-24 September.

An initiative of Mashable, 92nd Street Y, United Nations Foundation, Ericsson, U.N. Development Programme and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,the summit theme #2030NOW focuses on what kind of world we want in 2030. Everyone around the globe is invited to participate in the online conversation in the leadup via various social media channels including Twitter. As well as the keynote event in New York, people are also encouraged to organise Mashable Meetups to discuss what #2030NOW means to their specific communities and the world.

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki is looking forward to joining the global conversation and we encourage you to add your voice to the discussion on how we can help build resilient communities empowered with the knowledge to use social media in emergency communications. We also encourage you to join the Plus Social Good community and share your ideas there. You can learn more about getting involved on the Social Good Summit site.  We’ve also added this link to our Library.

We are keen to share updates on other public policy conversations going on around the globe in the area of social media, emergency management and community resilience and we invite you to share your news in the comments below. You are also welcome to join the Emergency 2.0 Wiki LinkedIn Group and use that forum to share news.


Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (voluntary)

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