Post by: Kim Stephens
The best of SMEM: The Canadian virtual emergency management community.
One aspect social media that I like to talk about to skeptical emergency managers is its ability to facilitate professional development. This isn’t just true of emergency managers but for all professions. David Carr of the New York Times described in an NPR interview the role social networks play in his ability to understand what information is important. “It serves to edit what’s going on in the world, and it puts a human curation on this huge fire hose of data that’s washing over us all,” he says. “The question becomes where to look, and it’s nice to have some other people pointing the way.” It always makes me disheartened to hear about public agencies that have completely walled off access to these sites for staff out of fear that people will waste time or compromise the computer system. That kind of fear really demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the value these tools can provide.
Governments do recognize the need to share information, however, and one way around the wall has been the emergence of online communities of practice. The Department of Homeland Security has a secure portal for their community of emergency management and public safety professionals called First Responders Communities of Practice, but I really like the example from Canada in PTSC because the website is open for all to see, e.g. no secure login and password to forget!
PTSC is a member driven, interactive online community that integrates social media, online profiles, blogs, discussion groups, a knowledge based wiki, spaces for private sector suppliers and students, that all serve to facilitate the sharing of information and collaboration. It is sponsored by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, but the focus is geared toward all response organizations. Take a moment to watch their video posted above.
The SMEM twitter community will recognize one familiar face on the site: Patrice Cloutier. Patrice is a mainstay in SMEM–the hardest working advocate I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and the mastermind of many projects including this December list. As Cherly Bledsoe at sm4em.org pointed out (and gave a really big hint for me or James Garrow) he would never put himself on the list of the best of SMEM, it would not be complete without him. Not only is he active in PTSC, but he is also a lead contributor to the Emergency2.0 wiki in Australia, a member of the CrisisCommons management team, a full time crisis communications specialist in Canada, and finally the writer of his own blog, Crisis Command Post. Honestly, I can’t keep up!
I acknowledge that my December Best-of-SMEM List has very few item under the tree, therefore, I will be rounding out the top twelve every day for the next eight. Be sure to check back and send me your suggestions!
- The December List: Best Uses of Social Media by Public Agencies (idisaster.wordpress.com)
- The December List: New York, New York (idisaster.wordpress.com)
- The December List: CRESA Leads the Way (idisaster.wordpress.com)