Digital volunteers

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Main Page | Emergency Preparation | Digital volunteers

Contributor Info
Reference Group Emergency Preparation, Volunteering, Business Continuity
Additional Contributors Tim Miller, Eileen Culleton


The Volunteering Reference Group is managing the overall development of content for this section and will be a point of contact for questions or help. We are still seeking nominations for the group, so if you are interested, please visit the Reference Groups information page on the blog and contact us.

Otherwise, please jump in and make a start with adding content. If you aleady have guidelines for use for emergency communications, please adapt them to develop generic guidelines for use by everyone. Also, (if you have permission), please link to them in the section for your industry sector and also in "References and Links".

Contents

Introduction

Digital volunteers (also referred to as Volunteer technical communities VTCs) can play an invaluable role in emergencies including:

  • Mapping emergency areas online and aggregating, analysing and posting information on the impact and needs
  • Sharing and amplifying official emergency messages via social media
  • Monitoring messages and cries for help from the public via social media and sms
  • Verifying messages posted via social media, sms and crowdsource maps
  • Providing 24 hour assistance due to geographic dispersal of volunteers across time zones

The key challenge is integrating VTCs with emergency response organisations to maximise and leverage the emergency response for the public benefit.




VTC Groups include:
VOST - Virtual Operations Support Team (also see below for more details): [1]
Digital Humanitarian Network: [2]
Humanity Road: [3]
Crisis Commons: [4]
Standby Task Force: [5]
Crisis Mappers: [6]


VOST - Virtual Operations Support Team

Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST) as applied to emergency management and disaster recovery is an effort to make use of new communication technologies and social media tools so that a team of trusted agents can lend support via the internet to those on-site who may otherwise be overwhelmed by the volume of data generated during a disaster. A VOST is activated to perform specific functions in support of affected organizations & jurisdictions. Each VOST has a Team Leader that reports directly to the affected organization/ jurisidiction.

If additional VOSTs are needed, a Virtual Operations Support Group (VOSG - a team of teams) may be established to coordinate the work of the VOSTs to maintain an effective span of control. The VOSG has a Group Supervisor who reports to the affected organization/jurisdiction. The VOST Leaders report to the Group Supervisor. Since not all EOC's have social media monitoring processes built in, a VOST acts like a strike-team asset, similar to an Incident Management Team (IMT) or other type of single-asset or skilled strike team for deployment. VOSTS are comprised of individuals working in shifts, engaging with the public using social media. Tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • identifying and monitoring relevant social media networks and sites that emerge during and in the immediate aftermath of an event, active in both the public and private sectors.
  • assisting the public in finding official & verified sources of information
  • correcting misinformation (Mythbusters)
  • temporarily taking over or assisting with official agency social media accounts to help manage the additional workload
  • creating new social media accounts for agencies that do not already have them set up
  • archiving

Slideshare: VOST Basics
Blog: VOST Leadership Coalition


Guidelines

Case Studies

References and Links

  • Social media use in the Victorian floods report 2011 [8]
  • American Red Cross research into social media 2011 [9]
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