An open letter to the #SMEM community… please RT!

Congratulations to all who have used #SMEM, this is your first anniversary of using the hashtag!  

Your commitment to saving lives… by leveraging the power of social media… is truly inspiring. 

This year we’ve witnessed (and many of us have experienced first-hand) unprecedented global disasters… from the Australian floods and Cyclone Yasi, to the New Zealand Christchurch earthquake, Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, US tornados, Hurricane Irene, the Thailand floods, this week’s Turkey earthquake… and too many more to list.


And throughout all these disasters –  this year – something very special has happened… the global #SMEM community has rallied as one to help… thousands of tweets, Facebook posts and Youtube videos have been shared and numerous crowdsource maps created and populated to help save lives… and to help people and communities get their lives back on track. 

And after each disaster, the race has been on –  to try to learn from how we responded and regroup for the next one… thousands more tweets have been shared, hundreds of blog posts written and discussed, scores of case studies and reports published and countless seminars, workshops and conferences have been held around the world.

Image courtesy The Emergency 2.0 Australia Project for the Government 2.0 Taskforce Report 2010

The thirst to understand and leverage the power of social media and web 2.0 technology to save lives and to help others to save lives… is unquenching. 

Now imagine… if there was one online site to collate all that knowledge… all those learnings…. all those ‘how to’ tips… and, just as importantly ‘what not to do’…. as we go along… and after each disaster.

Imagine if there was one site where you could see practical examples by agencies… screen shots of tweets, Facebook pages, crowd source maps… that you could refer to when you’re developing your own sites?

A site that listed all the Twitter and Facebook addresses of every agency involved in emergencies (including the NGOs and media) around the globe so there would be no last minute rush to create multiple lists?

Imagine… if we had a ‘Wikipedia’ on how to use social media in emergencies… that was also a ‘live’ resource for key links?

Imagine if this ‘Wikipedia’ could be used by business, schools, government agencies, community agencies, the media… and the general public?

Imagine how resilient our communities would be to disaster?

 Now stop imagining…. because it’s here…. the Emergency 2.0 Wiki is your global resource!

 But to get it from ‘under development’ to ‘live and ready for the public’… your Wiki needs you… your links… your tips… 

Your Wiki… is a voluntary, global initiative… a resource being created by professionals from from all industry sectors, around the world, who want to make a difference to help save lives… people just like you… volunteering their time… such as: 

Patrice Cloutier, Team Lead, Strategic Communications Unit at Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, from Ontario, Canada, who also writes the crisis comms commandpost blog

Kirsten Tanner, Emergency Management Officer at Department of Human Services,  VIC, Australia

Kim Stephens, Research Associate at Claire B. Rubin & Associates ((Baltimore, Maryland,USA), who also writes the idisaster2.0 Blog

Paul Trebilcock, Business Continuity Institute (BCI) Forum Leader, QLD Business Continuity Australasian Chapter and Director at JBT Global

Philippe Borremans, Chief Social Media Officer at Van Marcke, Online Public Relations & Social Media Consultant/Trainer at Conversationblog (Brussels, Belgium)

Rae Allen, Lead developer, Local Online at Australian Broadcasting Corporation, (from QLD, Australia)

Daniele Malerba, IT Consultant to the United Nations World Food Programme,  (from Rome, Italy)

And many more, who you will see when you checkout the Wiki, who are doing their bit, but they need your help. 

The Wiki has ‘seeded content’… but it needs more eg: 

 We now have a growing library of case studies and reports, but we need to turn them into practical guidelines that everyone can use…  

And, we are in a race against time…in 4 weeks, on Thursday 8 December… we are officially launching the Emergency 2.0 Wiki to the world! 

We can’t wait…this Summer season for our southern hemisphere neighbours is predicted to be another harsh one of cyclones, floods and bushfires… and the winter season for the northern hemisphere of snowstorms and blizzards needs a resilient, prepared community! 

We are in a race against time to save lives! 

Help us to make this Wiki a valuable resource, for the emergency management community, schools, business, government, media… and for the public. 

Haven’t used a wiki before? Don’t worry, you can’t break anything… if you accidentally delete something it can be ‘rolled back’. 

Don’t know where to start? There’s a report on the learnings from Hurricane Irene, an open doc created by the SMEM community that just needs key points turned into bullet point guidelines, along with some screen shots and links. Patrice Cloutier is leading this effort  in developing the Emergency Response section

Still not keen on editing a Wiki? That’s fine too, you can still help in so many ways, such as tweeting your tips, sending links, posting discussions on the LinkedIn Group. 

It takes a global community to create a global Emergency 2.0 Wiki.

 Please register now, via LinkedIn… to join us and follow us on Twitter @emergency20wiki

Together, the #SMEM community can do it! 

Thank you, 


Eileen Culleton, Emergency 2.0 Wiki Project Leader (Voluntary) 

PS. Together we can create a global resource that will help to save lives…

Hurricane Irene report authors join forces with Emergency 2.0 Wiki

Hurricane Irene report

We are thrilled to announce that best practice learnings from the social media response to Hurricane Irene, which struck the east coast of the US and the Caribbean in August will be incorporated into the Wiki.

The report, “Hurricane Irene: an analysis of the use of social media, crowdsourcing and crisis mapping,” a collaborative, voluntary and open source effort, is one of the most comprehensive analysis to date of the use of social media in disasters.

As stated in our August blog post:

“The US response to Hurricane Irene has raised the bar in using social media in emergencies. The actions of emergency agencies, government agencies, not for profits, the volunteer technical community, the media and the general public were impressive and inspirational. We look forward to these learnings being incorporated into the Wiki to share with the global community.”

This ‘appeal to the crowd’ is now going to be a reality thanks to this report and lead author Patrice Cloutier, an emergency management communications expert who works for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Canada, and who has generously agreed to volunteer his time to lead the Wiki Emergency Response Reference Group.

This Reference Group will lead the content development, management and promotion of two sections of the wiki:

  1. Tips for the Public, What to do during an Emergency
  2. Guidelines for emergency services, government, business, schools etc

Patrice will work with the report’s contributors (and anyone else who is keen) to incorporate key learnings into practical guidelines. This will include examples of the social media response from:

  • Local/municipal agencies and entities: including New York City, Washington DC, New Jersey and many cities in the impact zone
  • Federal agencies: including The Department of Homeland Security and White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service (NWS) and National Hurricane Centre
  • State Agencies: including The Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachussets and Vermont
  • NGOs and Service Agencies: including The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Volunteer Technical Communities: including Crisis Commons, Humanity Road and Crisis Mappers
  • Media and the Private Sector: including the New York Times, radio station WNYC,  and the Weather Channel
  • Business: including Google and Facebook
  • Citizens: including Sara Estes Cohen who created a Twitter list of key agencies

The report is currently being finalised and is still open for input, so if you would like to help on that front, please send through your report comments and suggestions to You can also read more about the report and its contributors on his crisis comms command post blog. We have linked to the report on the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Reports page, Library page, under references on the Emergency Preparation page and Emergency Response page.

If you’d like to help Patrice and the Reference Group incorporate the report’s key learnings into the Wiki, you are absolutely welcome! It takes a community to create a wiki and we need your help! Just remember that you will need to first register via the Emergency 2.0 Wiki LinkedIn Group. This is your gateway to developing the Wiki and joining the Emergency 2.0 Wiki community!

Emergency 2.0 Wiki proves valuable resource during Hurricane Irene

Less than a week after the fledgeling Emergency 2.0 Wiki launched for global collaborative input, the Wiki has already proved an invaluable resource in the height of a disaster.

As Hurricane Irene looked set to decimate the east coast of the United States, the Emergency 2.0 Community rallied over the weekend to provide tips for the public on how to use social media in emergencies. This included direct links to Hurricane Irene maps, apps and resources as well as emergency agencies social media accounts.

While the ‘tips for the public’ pages had ‘seeded content’, members worked tirelessly to populate the pages with extra tips for family preparedness, how to find real time information and how to help share information as well as adding links to Hurricane Irene social media resources as they came online:

How to prepare for an emergency (see table of contents below)

Family Preparedness tips included:

  • Create a Facebook account (you can make it private to share only with your family)
  • Arrange with your family that in case of emergency you will also post a message on Facebook to communicate that you are safe and where you are.
  • Use the Facebook Notes Page to put important information from your family emergency preparedness plan that you and your family can refer to as a central source eg evacuation checklist. (You choose who has access to your Notes Page)
  • Take photos of your children on your mobile phone and store them
  • Take photos of your pets and store them too.
  • Learn and practice how to send a photo with:
    • a text
    • a tweet
    • a facebook post
  • Practice this on your computer,your mobile phone, notebooks and other mobile devices

‘How to find realtime information’ included:

  • During an emergency, agencies, the media and the public use #hashtags to share information eg #flood #cyclone #earthquake #tornado
  • When a #hashtag is used, the whole world online can see the message
  • Following a hashtag gives you instant information on that emergency
  • Sometimes more than one #hashtag is used eg #tsunami, #japantsunami
  • Beware – information may not be correct or rumour (which spreads quickly online)
  • Watch for official messages from emergency agencies and the media
  • Download the Twitter app to your mobile phone to receive the messages wherever you are

In our ‘Real Time Maps’ section, we were hot on the heels of the Google Crisis Response Team, ESRI and Crisis Commons uploading their Hurricane Irene tracking maps, racing to post them as soon as we saw them promoted:

In our ‘YouTube Videos’ preparedness tips section, we added a hurricane preparedness video by the American Red Cross along with our existing video by the Brisbane City Council and the SES on how to sandbag your property:

Along with our Smart phone apps tips, such as “Make sure you have GPS enabled on your phone” we also posted the FEMA Smartphone app and the American Red Cross Evacuation Shelters app:


What to do during an Emergency

In this section we repeated most of the preparation information, but added important tips  which we also tweeted such as:

Help share emergency information

This section began with:

“If you are in an emergency and it is safe for you to do so, you can share the information publicly to warn others. You can also help by sharing emergency messages of official agencies. Examples include:”

Some examples were:


  • Send your warning message (add a #hashtag) eg “Jones Bridge flooded #irene #flood”
  • Take a photo and send that with your tweet
  • Enable GPS on your phone so that your tweets and photos are ‘geocoded’. This makes it easier for emergency agencies and the media to verify your information and pinpoint the location of the emergency.
  • Retweets “Please RT”
    • You can instantly share emergency messages by retweeting
    • To quickly retweet to your followers, press the retweet button
    • To maximise the message getting out to the world, put “RT” in front of the message, then it will act like a hashtag and everyone can pick it up.
    • If the emergency agency message doesn’t have a #hashtag add it yourself when you retweet the message


  • ‘Like’ emergency agencies and key media
  • ‘Like’ emergency messages and comment on them
  • Click on ‘Share’ to post emergency agency messages on your own profile

Save Battery Power on your mobile phone

One of the most valuable sections of the Wiki turned out to be this section. Given that during an emergency your mobile phone is your lifeline, we quickly added tips to this section (albeit for the Iphone initially) and tweeted tips.

These were retweeted by emergency service agencies as well as the general public, with great response:

We also called for and received tips from the crowd:

…which we then ‘retweeted’, incorporated into the wiki, and tweeted back out again with a link:

Emergency Recovery

How to use social media to share information and help others

Key tips we included were:

  • Share official messages and updates from emergency service agencies, government and community agencies via Twitter and Facebook
  • Add your local information to the online community maps eg “Jones Bridge closed”
  • Look for volunteer projects in your community
  • Rally your family and friends to join you in your volunteer efforts
  • Share the volunteer project messages via Twitter and Facebook

And we added the Hurricane Irene Cleanup Map produced by the Crisis Commons community using the Ushahidi tool:

We also included links to US Government agencies social media sites (on the eastern seaboard):

We also re-tweeted key messages about how to use social media in the emergency:


Early Outcomes:

  • Our Tweets were retweeted from emergency agencies and the general public
  • We received positive feedback on the usefulness of our Hurricane tips
  • The crowd responded by tweeting tips for us to add to the wiki
  • increased awareness of and traffic to the Emergency 2.0 Wiki sites
  • Increased Twitter followers
  • increased applications to join the Emergency 2.0 Wiki community, to write and edit the Wiki

Lessons Learned:

There are many! It must be stated that the US response to Hurricane Irene has raised the bar in using social media in emergencies. The actions of emergency agencies, government agencies, not for profits, the volunteer technical community, the media and the general public were impressive and inspirational.

We look forward to these learnings being incorporated into the Wiki to share with the global community.

Next Steps

The “Tips for the public” section still needs more development (eg “Save Battery Power on your mobile phone” just has tips for Iphones), so please join us and add your tips!

The “Guidelines for government, community agencies, business – how to use social media in emergencies” needs a lot of development – some sections have not even been started, so here is your chance to take a leadership role…

Please join Emergency 2.0 Wiki group on LinkedIn group – this is your gateway to developing the Wiki and joining the Emergency 2.0 Wiki community.

Calling on Emergency 2.0 Wiki Community to help the US prepare for Hurricane Irene

"Hurricane Irene covers a third of the US east coast"

The east coast of the US is about to be hit by an unprecedented hurricane and storm surge that will impact millions… even areas of New York City are being evacuated.

We are calling on the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Community to rally together to populate the wiki with tips on how to use social media in emergencies and also provide links to social media applications and tools such as smart phone apps, crowd source maps and YouTube videos.

How to prepare for an emergency” – already has some great information you can review and expand on (need more US Hurricane examples):

“What to do during an emergency” (prep section ‘in action’) also needs more development with US hurricane examples…

Our biggest challenge is to populate the “What to do after an emergency” section with information on how the community can use social media to get local real time information updates… and just as important, how to use social media to galvanise their communities to help each other.

We do need to emphasise though, that the purpose of the Wiki is not to replicate emergency warnings or information provided by FEMA or agencies such as the Red Cross, or the great work being done by Crisis Commons and the volunteer technical community. Our focus is on providing practical tips on how the community (including government agencies, schools and businesses) can use social media to share information and help each other during this disaster.

To write or edit the wiki you will need to first register via the Emergency 2.0 Wiki LinkedIn Group. A few of the Wiki Working Group are standing by over the weekend to arrange registration and send you your login and password.

We know that we weren’t going to launch the Wiki until November… but we can’t stand by… we need to pull out all stops to use the Emergency 2.0 Wiki to help our US community during this disaster…

It takes a global community to create a wiki and we thank you in advance for your help!

ps. For inspiration of what we are trying to achieve, check out our Future Scenarios pages …