“The application of NIMS guidelines and social media for emergency public information is currently counterproductive,” said Adam Crowe, of the Johnson County (Kan.) Office of Emergency Management.
NIMS calls for all information released to the public during an emergency to be reviewed and approved by incident commanders. But Crowe told Homeland1 that this structured review-and-approval process greatly reduces the effectiveness of social media.
“This is contradictory to the speed, pace and expectations of the social media community,” Crowe said. A paper he wrote recently appeared in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, exposing the flaw and calling for a NIMS review to see how social media use during a response can fit into that framework.
Re-writing a federal document does not make the people who fall under it framework any more educated or accepting of its use. Time, instruction and changes of specific agency procedures make social media work in incident command.
- In the height of the emergency when things were chaotic and some traditional communication structures began to break down many of our officers were told to keep informed of what was going on by following our Facebook page.
- In the critical days of the crisis we only published maybe half a dozen or so traditional media releases a day, as opposed to our Facebook updates which we were posting every 10 minutes.
- We did not do those things because we thought they were trendy or cool. People’s lives were at stake. We did them because in the crisis Social Media was exponentially more effective than traditional forms of communication.
Don’t believe me, below is just small a snippet of the public reaction we received (You have to click on the ‘View previous comments’ link 9 times to see all the comments). Facebook. [I’ve inserted some of the public feedback here.]
Of course I’m a huge advocate for open data and certainly departmental silos made some things much, much harder than they needed to be during the crisis. We have some pretty big web 2 plans for the future, stay tuned.”
Thank you to QPS for the response!
- Social Media/Web 2.0 and NIMS, by Hal Grieb.
- Cyclone Yasi destruction brought home on Facebook, Twitter (gadling.com)
- Social media and the Queensland floods (publicrelationssydney.com.au)
- Collaborative Communications During Emergency Response: JIC Model. Written by National Response Subcommittee Workgroup.