Emergency Recovery

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Main Page | Emergency Recovery Guidelines for emergency agencies, government, community agencies, schools, business etc

Contributor Info
Reference Groups Emergency Recovery, Business Continuity, Employee Engagement, Volunteer Engagement
Additional Contributors Eileen Culleton

This section provides guidelines to help the community, emergency services, local government, NGOs, schools and business use social media to better recover from emergencies.

The Emergency Recovery Reference Group is managing the table of contents for this section and is a point of contact for questions or help. As you can see in the Contributor Info Box there are also other reference groups developing key areas of content. If you have guidelines on how your organisation uses social media for emergency recovery, please contact us so that together we can adapt them to develop generic guidelines for use by everyone. Also, (if you have permission), we would be keen to link to them in "Examples'. Please feel free to add relevant and timely content to develop these guidelines:


Emergency Sector

Citizen reporting on washed out road via Twitter using Twitpic. This report was then posted on the Hurricane Irene CrowdMap
Citizen reporting on washed out road posted on the Hurricane Irene CrowdMap

Key Tips

  • Have guidelines, procedures and protocols for using social media in place before the emergency.
  • Undertake 'table top' exercises and mock emergency response exercises, ideally with other agencies
  • Social media can play a key role in the immediate aftermath of a disaster:
    • Assessment and preparation of the relevant information to be shared via social network or the Internet.
    • Sharing of the information and subsequent involvement of the population as both a vehicle for spreading the news and a source for new material.
    • Monitoring of what is being said in unofficial channels in order to re-use the information in the official ones.

Social Media channels can be used to assist this process to:

  • Regularly post real-time localised updates on restoration of infrastructure and essential services using a multichannel approach of mainstream and web2.0 channels.
  • Provide recovery information on a number of platforms including websites, mobile friendly sites, smart phone apps and video sharing sites as well as social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Look for, monitor and update online real-time interactive community maps utilised by the public and other social media sites to inform the logistical and communications response.

NB: As phone lines may be highly congested or cut, social media may prove to be the most valuable communication channel Staff in charge of news monitoring and emergency preparedness departments therefore need to be trained in order to offer this service quickly.

Community Recovery Plan

Social media can be incorporated into both phases of Emergency recovery:

  • Immediate recovery: Emergency staff are in the field giving assistance to the population, the community is partially involved through the preparation of relief and volunteering opportunities which are often far from the Red Zone.
  • Long-Term Recovery: Emergency staff involvement reduces to a minumum as the Community starts to plan how to reconstruct for the long term.

During this reconstruction phase, social networks, forums and mailing lists may be of help to the community since people previously living in the disaster's location could be displaced and living elsewhere and this provides an opportunity to stay up to date and also to have a voice in future redevelopment decisions.

Gifts in Kind
Key tips

  • Social media can be used to help ensure that what is being donated is what is needed eg
    • Monitor social networks (especially Twitter) as people will indicate what they need when they ask for help.
    • 'Community donation matching' platforms via social media can be of great value as they enable direct matching of community needs with community assistance.


Government Sector

City of New York @NYC311 Tweet for emergency relief (Hurricane Sandy)

Local Government
Key Tips

  • Post real-time localised updates on infrastructure and essential services being restored on your Facebook page and via Twitter
  • Use social media to monitor the needs of the community, to inform your priorities for logistical and communications response.
  • Use realtime community maps and encourage the public to add their local information

[Need more “How to” steps] [Need examples]

Community/NGO sector

Key tips

  • Utilise social network sites to share official information from emergency agencies
  • Cross promote other agency activities.
  • Use Twitter and Facebook to rally and mobilise volunteers and to call for donations eg of household items.
  • Amplify your appeal messages by posting them on the Facebook sites of local media and council.
  • Provide local information and updates to emergency agencies by using the agency twitter handle and posting messages on their Facebook sites
  • Look for, monitor and update online real-time interactive community maps utilised by the public and other social media sites to inform the logistical and communications response.

[Need more “How to” steps] [Need examples]

Business Sector

Using social media to seek help

Hurricane Sandy Coworking Crowdmap

Key Tips

  • If your businesses is impacted and needs assistance, look for online crowdmaps providing updates on businesses helping each other eg with office space and other services such as internet connection and mobile device recharging.
  • Also look for online billboards which match businesses needing help with those offering assistance eg saveabusiness.com.au [2] matching business needing help with those offering assistance.
  • As your business/offices reopen, use social media to let others know:
    • Tweet, use Facebook and look for an online interactive community map in your area that enables businesses to post when they have reopened.
    • See if your local council or community newspaper is posting information on businesses reopening on their websites or Facebook pages.

Finding realtime localised information after an emergency

  • Emergency service agencies may utilise social media to broadcast localised updates on infrastructure and essential services being restored. Find and follow their Facebook accounts and Twitter Channels
  • Community agencies/NGOs may use their sites to rally and mobilise volunteers and to call for donations of household items. Find and follow them on Facebook and Twitter
  • Online real-time interactive community maps may be established such as Hurricane Sandy Staten Island Recovery Map
  • See if there is a smart phone app for your emergency and download it to receive up to date localised information

Also see Emergency Response - Business Continuity


Key Tips to:

  • Engage and inform employees
  • Help your employees to recover from emergencies
  • Empower employees to help their communities recover


Key Tips

  • Use the intranet to share emergency recovery information with your employees
  • Use to point staff to opportunities for volunteering or to donate

Using internal social networks

Key Tips

  • Use your internal social networks such as Yammer to share emergency recovery information with your employees
  • Use to point staff to opportunities for volunteering or to donate and to enable them to galvanise and mobilise themselves or internal teams
City of New York @nycgov Tweet re schools serving as shelters and closed to students - Hurricane Sandy

Providing access to social media

Key Tips

  • During the recovery phase it is important to enable employees to access social media channels as this is where emergency agencies and NGOs are publicising real time localised information

Also see Emergency Response - Business Continuity

Helping to share emergency recovery information

Key Tips

  • Share official agency emergency messages
  • Use your Internet and internal social media sites (internal and external) to promote supporting NGOs community recovery activities

Helping the community

Online Business Recovery Directory "Disaster Directory" [1]

Key Tips

  • If you are a business, when considering how to help, look to what products and services your business provides and how you could use those to help. Eg. If you are a cleaning company, and your region is flooded, donate the use of a gerney (high pressure water hose) to help clean out homes and businesses.
  • You may have spare office space that you can offer to a small business. To maximize this, you could consider asking some of your staff to work from home to free up more space to help. You may also be able to share your wifi connection.
  • Look for look for online crowdmaps or online community billboards that enable direct posts of offers for goods and services. Some also enable you to directly contact those in need.
  • Look for online crowdmaps or community billboards specifically to enable business to help business eg http://saveabusiness.com.au or http://www.businesssearchqld.com.au/
  • Use your social media channels to promote these online crowdmaps or community billboards
Tweet promoting Hurricane Sandy Coworking Crowdmap

  • Use your intranet site to post links to key donation/volunteer sites for your staff to access
  • Use your internal social media network eg Yammer to enable your employees to directly list offers of donated household items and to rally staff to volunteer for specific projects in the community.
  • Consider turning this into a team building/staff engagement activity for your organization.
  • Use this as a ‘soft’ promotional opportunity for your business eg wear company T-shirts, hats and promote your efforts to help out on your Facebook page and Twitter. Don’t forget the radio and local paper.
  • Encourage your suppliers to join you
  • During the volunteer activity, when/if appropriate (and taking into account the sensitivity of the situation) take a photo of your staff volunteering and post on your organization Facebook page, and send a Tweetpic.

NB:If taking photos of employee volunteering efforts after an emergency, ensure you have written consent of anyone else that is in the photo and do not take pictures of children.

Education Sector

NYC Dept of Education Facebook posts during the recovery phase (Hurricane Sandy)

Key Tips

  • Utilise social media to share community recovery information with parents and staff such as:
    • how to seek assistance (eg financial, material items, emergency accommodation, counselling) and
    • how to donate (eg money, blood, material items) with links to key agency sites.
  • Utilise the power of social media to galvanise and mobilise volunteer armies to help with the recovery of your school.
  • Use your Facebook page and Twitter to make direct appeals for help and enable your community to directly respond.
  • Post updates on schools reopening

[Need more “How to” steps] [Need examples]


Case Studies

Other References

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