Top 5 Resources about Social Media for Emergency Management

Post by: Kim Stephens

A lot has written about social media, but not much pertains to emergency management. I compiled a list of the articles with the most relevance on the Bibliography page of this blog, which I will try to update when new information is made available.  There are a  few articles and studies on that list that I’d like to highlight:

1. “New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Social Networks.” This is a report written by Diana Coyle and Patrick Meier with sponsorship from the United Nations and Vodafone, JUNE 2010 .  From the summary:

There have been dramatic advances in communications technology: in the number of new technologies, the mobility and range of functions available, and the spread of these technologies. Growth has been particularly strong in the penetration of mobile phones and more recently the uptake of social networking websites including Facebook and Twitter. One important change is a shift from one-to- many forms of communication, such as television and radio, to many-to-many forms of communication, such as social networking and crowdsourcing websites, that is changing the way in which information is delivered and exchanged.

2.Twitter, Facebook, and Ten Red Balloons;  Social Network Problem Solving and Homeland Security.” Homeland Security Digital Library. 2010. White paper describing the DARPA project designed to “explore the role the Internet and social networking plays in the timely communication, wide area team-building and urgent mobilization required to solve broad scope, time-critical problems.” From the conclusion:

The modern models created for the challenges can be successfully adapted by the government: if adapted properly. The models share three commonalities which contribute to their success. First, they are simple programs utilizing existing technologies (e.g., simple webpages, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Second, the models are structured to answer a single discrete question (e.g., where are the balloons?). Third, the models are fueled by their powerful incentive structures. Indeed, a government program would further benefit from another equally powerful incentive: patriotism.

A simple website, integrated with social networking sites, issuing discrete challenges, and offering small cash rewards. In short, a properly structured program has the potential to solve an array of discrete problems using a vast and powerful enterprise of active, engaged, and networked citizens.

3.  Making the Most of Social Media: 7 Lessons From Successful Cities,” Fels Institute of Government. March, 2010

This document is written for local governments—cities, counties, town- ships and their affiliates—that are beginning to experiment with social media and would like to get more out of them. Its emphasis is on the use of specific applications, such as Facebook and Twitter, by government managers and communications directors. More than two dozen “early adopters” were interviewed for this report. Their experiences offer some lessons to local governments about what sorts of tools social media offer, how to integrate them into a busy office, and how to use them creatively to be more effective.

4. “Expert Round Table on Social Media and Risk Communication During Times of Crisis: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities“, by Donya Currie of Booz Allen & Hamilton.  March 31, 2009.  Round table meeting consisted of Federal Government officials engaged in public health and emergency response crisis communications (e.g. CDC).  The report has numerous “how-to’s” and examples from federal agencies that have successfully implement social media into their communications strategy.

5. “The Case for Integrating Crisis Response with Social Media.” Report sponsored by the American Red Cross. July 30, 2010.

Social media and social technologies have altered communication patterns, particularly in times of disaster. The public has begun to rely on social media to share information during emergencies with family, friends and increasingly, with government and aid organizations who maintain social networking profiles. This has created an unexpected side effect—in which responding authorities and aid organizations are expected to be aware of and respond to emergency requests for help coming from such sources as Facebook, Twitter, and text messages. Additionally, there is a growing network of independent citizens who want to assist in  times of emergency, and they are using social media tools to organize and deliver aid.

2 responses to “Top 5 Resources about Social Media for Emergency Management

  1. Wonderful resources! So much of what’s written about social media seems stuck in a finger-wagging bandwagon mode. It’s nice to see some specific and actionable intel coming back from the SM front.

  2. Thanks very much. We are trying hard to collect the best informatio in this fast-moving field of endeavor. And via the blog, we want to share the “good stuff.” Claire

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