US Government releases social media community engagement guide for emergency preparedness

To coincide with September being National Preparedness Month, the US Government has released a social media guide “Community Engagement Guidance and Best Practices” for first responders.

In support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “Whole of Community” approach to emergency management, this guide discusses best practices for the use of social media by public safety agencies and partner organisations for meaningful and successful engagement of community members and stakeholders.

“Whole of Community” is described as including non-governmental organisations like faith-based and non-profit groups, the private sector, academia, individuals, families and communities.

“Social media can provide a means to tap into community and volunteer efforts, saving resources and time by leveraging existing networks, identifying existing resources, encouraging information sharing between the “whole of the community” and official response organisations, and helping to ensure that all information shared is immediate, accurate and up-to-date.” (page 7)

The guide defines and discusses various goals for community engagement, such as “to encourage individual connectivity and promote community resources”, “to promote and encourage efficiency, credibility and transparency” and “to encourage multidirectional sharing of essential information”.

Challenges and considerations covered include “Brand Management and Awareness” and how to address “Oversaturation of information”.

Recommendations and use cases are provided for topics such as:

  • Crowdsourcing for creative problem solving
  • Online collaboration and multi-media information sharing
  • Developing creative and engaging content
  • Relationship building and community partnerships
  • Volunteer networks

This guide builds on earlier social media guides “Social Media Strategy” and “Next Steps Strategy” produced in January by the First Responder Communities of Practice Virtual Social Media Working Group. The Emergency 2.0 Wiki has now added this set of guides to the Emergency Preparation section and the Library joining the following guides sourced from around the globe:

  • “Social Media in an Emergency: A Best Practice Guide” (New Zealand – for which the wiki facilitated an international review)
  • “Project to Advance Crisis and Emergency Communications” (Canada)
  • “Use of social media in crisis communication” (Belgium)

We hope these guides will be utilised internationally to help accelerate the adoption of social media for emergency management and create ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready Communities’. The guide is also available via the FirstResponder.gov site. Please share widely.

Cheers,

Eileen

Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (Voluntary role)

Wiki facilitates international review of new SMEM guide

We are proud to announce the Emergency 2.0 Wiki facilitated an international review of a new social media for emergency management guide which is freely available to all online.

The guide, “Social Media in an Emergency: A Best Practice Guide” was developed for the emergency management sector in New Zealand by the Wellington Region Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group and prepared by Opus International.

Due to the Emergency 2.0 Wiki’s role as a global hub facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing across all industry sectors, we were asked to facilitate an international review of the draft guide by experts in SMEM to provide insights and input.

As well as the emergency sector these experts were also drawn from the health, government, academia and private sectors (see list of contributors below).

While developed for emergency managers, this guide provides valuable generic content and practical tips, checklists and templates that could be adapted by all industry sectors aiming to become emergency 2.0 ready.

Topics include:

Before an Emergency

  • Important considerations before engaging in social media
  • Technology types
  • Policy and strategy
  • Staffing and resourcing
  • Streamlining information release and labelling of reliability
  • Legal considerations
  • Building your online presence

 During an emergency

  • Resource allocation
  • Links with the community and other organisations
  • Building trust with the community during an event
  • Information out (including alerts and information release, addressing rumours)
  • Information In (analytic tools, validating community information)

After an Emergency

  • Some quick tips (including evaluating your social media response)

Checklists and templates

  • Checklists for actions to take before, during and after an emergency
  • Templates for monitoring of information, and information release and alerts

It is important to highlight this is only the third social media for emergency management guide in the world to be published and made freely available online (if you know of any others please tell us). The other two, also available via the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Library are:

  • “Project to Advance Crisis and Emergency Communications” via Partnerships Towards Safer Communities (PTSC-Online) created for the Canadian emergency management sector
  • “Use of Social media in crisis communication” via Kortom created for the Flemish emergency management sector

These guides were also referenced in the development of this guide, as was the Emergency 2.0 Wiki. We have also added the guide as a resource to the Wiki Emergency Preparation, Emergency Response and Emergency Recovery sections.

International Review Contributors

We would like to thank the following experts (drawn from the emergency, government, health, academia and private sectors) who contributed their time and expertise to reviewing the guide:

We hope this guide will help to accelerate the adoption of social media for emergency management globally and we encourage you all to share it widely. It is also available online for free download from the Wellington Region Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group website.

Cheers,

Eileen

Eileen Culleton, Founder & CEO (Voluntary role)

Creating Emergency 2.0 Ready Communities in 2012

Hi Everyone! Happy New Year! As our Emergency 2.0 Wiki Community looks to 2012, we thought it was important to frame a discussion around what we aim to achieve together by first focusing on the vision of an ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready Community’, and how it would respond to an emergency… and to ask you three questions:

  1. Is this how your own community would respond?
  2. Is this how your workplace would respond?
  3. What are the gaps? How can the Wiki help everyone become ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready’?

The scenario: A major emergency/disaster has struck your community…

Emergency/first responder agencies immediately mobilise, utilising the power of social media and sms to instantly broadcast and amplify emergency warnings to the public along with radio and TV news bulletins. They monitor and actively crowdsource localised information via GPS coded tweets, photos, videos and sms messages from community agencies, schools, government, service clubs and the public, displayed on online crowdsource maps publicly accessible for 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.

Evacuation tweet (Qld floods, Aus)

Community agencies, NGOs 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.

Emergency crowdsource map (Hurricane Irene, USA)

‘Voluntweeters’ and online 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 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.

Businesses 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.

The public/citizens are directly receiving and acting on localised, real-time emergency warning information via sms alerts to their mobile phones, push notifications to emergency apps and messages to their social networks along with the traditional channels of radio, TV and online.

Bushfire/Wildfire Alert App for Smartphone (NSW, Aus)

They are directly accessing links to online information via a number of platforms including websites, mobile friendly sites, smart phone apps and video sharing sites as well as social networking sites.   They are actively forwarding official emergency messages to their social networks, amplifying the warnings. They are following the #hashtag on Twitter and accessing online real-time interactive community maps.

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…

Is this how your community would respond if a major emergency or disaster struck right now?

What about your workplace? What are the gaps? How can the Wiki help everyone become ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready’?

The answer to these questions will frame our focus and actions for 2012 and we need your input! In our January planning, we’ve identified a number of activities: 

Our global Emergency 2.0 Wiki Community on TweepsMap

The Wiki

Together we have created a great resource, but there are gaps:

  • Guidelines: We still need to develop practical guidelines for a number of key topics and for the health, community and education sectors.
  • Smartphone Apps Directory: We have apps for many emergencies, but need help uploading links to apps from the lists we’ve been sent, and to add new ones as they are developed…
  • Global directory: We’ve got a solid list for Australia, the US and NZ, but need help to add emergency social media contacts for the rest of the world. If you don’t fancy editing the wiki, please just add the web addresses to this blog post as a comment and a volunteer will copy it over (show of hands please!)
  • For more info on how to help with the Wiki, please visit How to Help.
We also aim to help build community resilience and create ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready Communities’ through:

Social Media in Times of Crisis Symposium; Eidos Institute

Education and Training:

We will continue to present at industry conferences, seminars and workshops on how organisations and individuals can use social media and new technology in emergency prevention, preparation, response and recovery.
We also aim to accelerate capacity building in communities by providing ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready Train the Trainer’ sessions for organisations such as professional industry associations, councils and service clubs.

BCI Alliance


Alliances:

We will forge ahead with building alliances with agencies and networks from across all industry sectors to support common goals, for collaboration and knowledge sharing, and to help facilitate delivery of education and training.

Resilience Framework:

We aim to develop a resilience framework that can be utilised by all industry sectors to become ‘Emergency 2.0 Ready’.

Community Engagement:

We aim to increase our community engagement, awareness and education activities to promote the use of social media and new technology for building community resilience.

We attended a stakeholder workshop to help inform this report

Research:

We will continue to promote and support research activities in the use of social media for emergency communications and to build community resilience.

We helped inform the development of the Ready Qld emergency volunteer app


Technology Innovation:

We will assist our community to stay at the cutting edge of emergency communications technology. For example, as new tools and applications are developed and released eg Google Plus, they will be posted on the Wiki along with practical guidelines on how to use these tools for emergency communications and business continuity.

We will also continue to promote and support technology innovation for emergency communications and to build community resilience, such as the development of new apps.

This is a big agenda for the Emergency 2.0 Wiki, but we believe these activities are important to help our communities become Emergency 2.0 Ready and that together, we can make it happen…

We will also be seeking funding support from a number of sources. On the governance side, we also look forward to expanding the board with the expertise needed to help us achieve our goals. As well as this, we’re aiming to create a governance model that will enable people from across the globe to take on voluntary leadership roles in areas such as community management, education and training, marketing and communications and research (in addition to the Wiki Reference Groups who are focussed on content).

This is your Wiki, a free global resource that you helped create and it is vital that you continue to have input to its direction as well as the content and we aim to regularly seek your input and feedback. Another key enabler for this will be the establishment of a membership base, which would give everyone a formal voice and voting options. We plan to post more on that soon.

Thank you for being a part of the Emergency 2.0 Wiki community. We’d love your feedback and ideas and really look forward to working with you this year to help create Emergency 2.0 Ready communities in 2012.

From the founding directors (voluntary): Eileen Culleton (CEO), David Eade and Denver Gibson.

Wishing you a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year

As this year draws to a close, we would like to wish our global Emergency 2.0 Wiki community a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

It has been a momentous year, which began with the unprecedented disasters that swept our globe and ended with the launch of the Emergency 2.0 Wiki – a free global resource for using social media in emergencies.

And today, we are thrilled to announce that we officially became a not for profit company, Emergency 2.0 Wiki Ltd, just in time for Christmas!

We are very grateful to Joanne Redburn (NFP Lawyers and formerly of Hynes Lawyers) and Michael Boughey (Hynes Lawyers) for all their hard work in making this happen.

Our three founding directors are David Eade, Co-founder and Coordinator, Government 2.0 in Queensland Community of Practice (CoP that initiated the Wiki), Denver Gibson, Wiki Working Group Member and Business Development Manager at Mammoth Media, our technology and web hosting partners, and myself (Eileen Culleton), Project Leader and now proud CEO (albeit in a voluntary capacity)!

We would like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for helping to make the vision of creating an Emergency 2.0 Wiki – a free global resource for using social media and new technologies in emergencies – a reality in 2011.

Now we look forward to working together to making our vision – of building resilient communities empowered with the knowledge to use social media in emergencies – a reality in 2012.

With warmest wishes and lots of cheer,

Eileen

Eileen Culleton

Founder and CEO (Voluntary role)

ps. the launch of the Wiki is now on YouTube… thanks to JPL Media and GigTV