SMEM chat: Discussing our “Cloud based Collective”

Post by Kim Stephens

This week the Social Media and Emergency Management chat focused internally, asking and answering the question that most groups get to at some point in their existence: what are doing here? As the first ever SMEM camp is set to occur this week in Alexandria, Virginia in conjunction with the NEMA conference, and subsequent camps are scheduled for this year, some of us thought it might be important to put together a community engagement framework. This framework could be designed as a guide for our all-volunteer effort, including how we will work together, our goals, and our code of conduct–if that is indeed needed.

For background info, the framework states the SMEM goals in broad terms:

  • to document and share social media best practices within the practitioner field of EM
  • to help frame policy development, operations and other augmentations of support within domestic crisis management systems
  • to accelerate the incorporation and engagement with social media and accessible technologies within the broader emergency management community.

“The community will do this by establishing SMEM collaboration processes, including ad-hoc small workgroups to support coordination efforts, recruitment into the community, monthly conference calls, bi-annual in person meeting and reaching out to garner support and augment existing efforts. The code of conduct is simply along the lines of play-nice in the sandbox, give credit where credit is due, etc.

The chat itself started with a question about goals and expectations for the upcoming SMEM camp. Responses included:

  • solidify relationships since we will be meeting in person for the first time
  • create further consensus on policy, tactics practices
  • teach new folks who aren’t using SMEM yet; address issues and concerns and advance the dialog on what we’ve learned–push the limit

We posed the question: Is our SMEM group was just a bunch of folks that communicate via a hashtag or a true initiative? The answer, was yes, we are an initiative. But two interesting questions were raised from the group:

  1. “how do we deal with people who want to monetize “it”: meaning both the tag and the initiative. This is a tricky question. We have a lot of people in our group that sell products and services to the emergency management community. It’s a difficult line to walk for those folks, in my opinion, because it’s important to be a part of the conversation, but it also important not to look like you are selling your service all the time. But I think most people in this category that I’ve encountered on the SMEM tag do a great job in this regard.
  2. How do we have genuine conversations on the SMEM tag? Some people complained that the SMEM hashtag on twitter has become an echo chamber and not really a place for good dialog. As an observation and an aside, I think this might be due to the popularity of the tag and I equate it to being at a loud party–sometimes you have to leave the room to have an in-depth conversation. This is why I think these chats are so important.

We discussed the framework itself, outlined above. Several interesting points were made:

  • it will be hard to enforce “rules” with such an open group;
  • Are we diluting sub-committee development for SMEM in other strong associates?
  • Should we have training standards for those of us who do presentations on SMEM?

Some other brainstorming led people to believe maybe we should do following:

  • develop more formalized regional working groups
  • have more in-depth topic specific skype chats
  • drive national conference agendas.
  • influence or impact formal emergency response procedures and policies (e.g. NIMS) to consider social media and crowdsourcing implications.
  • need to demonstrate how SM should be integrated into all aspects of EM not just response and how it benefits ops and planning people not just PIOs
  • Goal: write business case for SM.
  • We need to think about more than just SM but all data streams.

We talk often about how difficult is to change the EM culture for the inclusion of SM. We discussed how traditional training has not yet incorporated SM, and until it does, not much will change. This led to the best quote of the day by FireTracker:

In a way SMEM is like the fire service. You are going to have to carry it into the future kicking and screaming.”

This is a long summary, but  James Hamilton was able to sum up the entire discussion in one tweet when someone asked–“hey, what’d I miss?” He also riffed on my processed affection for this group:

We are an initiative, people need to be nice, don’t pollute the hashtag, Kim loves everyone, next up DC.”

One response to “SMEM chat: Discussing our “Cloud based Collective”

  1. The NEMA conference session is underway. I am sure folks will be posting their impressions soon.

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