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.