Yesterday I had a very productive day in California talking about social media, technology, emergency management, and ways to assist the public in getting prepared, by using the tools they use on a daily basis. Check out this short video to see who I met with:
In addition to meeting with fellow “Craig”, Craig Newmark (the founder of Craigslist), I also met with editors from Wired Magazine, Twitter, Apple and Facebook.
Some of the things we discussed included:
- The need to provide information to the public as data feeds, because they are a key member of our emergency management team;
- The importance of referring to people impacted by a disaster as survivors and utilizing them as a resource;
- The importance of providing good customer service; and
- How we, as emergency managers, need to stop trying to have the public fit into our way of doing things and receiving information, but that we should fit the way the public gets, receives and seeks out information.
There are a lot of discussions and conversations taking place about social media, text messaging, etc, and how these tools can be used before, during, and after a disaster.
There’s no question that these tools have already changed the field of emergency management – and will continue to. As emergency managers, we will have to be flexible and agile and quickly adapt as new technologies and communications tools emerge. What’s exciting is that these new tools, if we embrace them and leverage them effectively, will continue to help us better serve our customers – the public.
As the conversation continues, and as you use these tools on a daily basis, there are things that you can today do to prepare yourself, your family members, and your colleagues at work.
Communicating during or after an emergency
How are you communicating with each other if a disaster or emergency occurs? Are you going to call each other, send an email, text message, or update each other via a social network site? The disaster or emergency could be something like a blackout in your city or a school closure; all disasters aren’t large earthquakes or hurricanes.
Receiving updates on your phone
How are you receiving updates from local officials? Have you signed up for text message or email alerts? If you’re on Facebook, did you know that you can signup to receive text message updates from Facebook pages you follow? If you are a fan of FEMA on Facebook or your local emergency management agency, you can receive our update as a text message right on your phone (and just like with any text message, standard rates apply).
Leverage Twitter without creating an account
And here’s another small tip: if you are thinking about using Twitter, did you know you can receive text messages updates from someone you’re following without having to create an account? For example, if you wanted to receive our updates as a text message to your phone, just text FOLLOW FEMA to 40404 (this is Twitter’s text message number and of course, standard text message rates apply --- the lawyers require me to repeat this). You can do the same for your local emergency management agency.
Our meetings in California generated great discussions and ideas and I’m excited to explore how we can move forward on them. In the meantime, I’d like to hear how you use these and other social network sites to communicate with friends and family before or during an emergency, so we can all utilize these tools to fullest capability, so please leave a comment below, or visit our ongoing challenge at www.challenge.gov/fema and submit your ideas.