Tag Archives: Maryland

Maryland Emergency Management Agency Plans for #SMEM

Post by: Kim Stephens

Maryland Emergency Management Agency

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Maryland National Guard)

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (@MDMEMA on Twitter)  has recently taken their social media communication’s strategy to new heights–even incorporating a module about the tools into their Public Information Officer training.

I had the opportunity to meet the MEMA  Social Media Coordinator, Kasey Parr, when we both served on a panel at the Social Media Week in Washington DC (a big thank you to Michael Clarke of International Media Solutions for organizing our session). I  asked Kasey in a written follow up for a little more detail about their social media plans and current processes. Below is the result of the Q&A with both Kasey and Ed McDonough,  the MEMA PIO.

Q1. What type of Social Media content is included in the PIO training?

A1: Kasey: The first training we conducted on “Social Media in the JIC” was right before Hurricane Sandy, forcing me to cut down on my slides because of time constraints on Ed and myself. The presentation given before Hurricane Sandy included:

  • Why do we use social media during emergencies?
  • What are the benefits?- This will now include a case study of the Derecho/Hurricane Sandy
  • Our level of engagement/How we use SM
  • VOST concept and how we can create a model with MD social media managers
  • Procedures during an event- 12 hour shift roles and responsibilities
  • Monitoring/responding (what it is, how we do it, etc)-

A1: Ed — I would add that we have been teaching about the use of social media as part of our instruction of FEMA‘s Basic PIO (G290) and JIC/JIS (G291) training for several years. We discuss the various platforms for SM, how to get buy in from supervisors and/or elected officials, stress the differences and similarities between SM and the traditional media, and emphasize that it is a two-way information flow that also can help operations folks with tactical decisions.  (You may be familiar with some of the ways Bill Humphries of LAFD has used Twitter to gain operational information.)

Maryland Emergency Management Agency

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Maryland National Guard)

Q2. How is SM incorporated into “normal” communications and messaging processes?
A2: Ed — During our “sunny day” periods, we regularly use social media to engage the public about preparedness information, regularly monitor Facebook and twitter for information about weather, traffic and other information in and around Maryland and from emergency management agencies around the country. Unlike traditional media, where we are usually just pushing out information, we use social media to actually engage the public with contests and such to get immediate feedback. We also are in the process of making sure that our social media policies are incorporated into our public information SOPs, so any state public information officer working in our Joint Information Center will understand the role of social media in emergency management.

Q3.  Do you talk (in your training) specifically about the transfer of the intelligence gathered from monitoring social networks to decision-makers? 
A3: Kasey–We do address social media monitoring in our training. As a part of the procedures in the JIC the roles and responsibilities of the monitor are outlined. These responsibilities include alerting the team of any relevant trends that may need to be addressed and by whom these issues need to be addressed according to the urgency of the matter. Some issues can be easily solved with the PIO, relevant state agency reps, or they [may] require the attention of the Senior Policy Group.

Depending on the nature of the information that has come through, we may need to get the Governor to address it in his next press briefing, have the PIO construct a press release, or create a social media messaging strategy centered on the intelligence or trend to eliminate confusion. After Hurricane Sandy, we walked away with a lot of lessons learned as far as media monitoring is concerned. In my opinion, the social media monitor has the most important role during a disaster. This is one part of our social media program that I would like to build out for a disaster or emergency situation.

A3: Ed — I would add that we are exploring the use of crowdsourcing programs that could work in conjunction with our GIS staff to give operational staff in the state EOC better situational awareness during an activation. This will become even more important for counties and cities, as they are on the front lines of response.

Thank you so much Ed and Kasey! Let me know what types of questions you might have for them or other agencies.


New Study: Social Media Use During Disasters

Post by: Kim Stephens

This is a very short post to alert my readers to a great resource: “Social Media Use During Disasters: A Review of the Knowledge Base and Gaps” published December 12, 2012. Interestingly, despite this recent publishing date, the authors were even able to include some findings on the use of social media during  Hurricane Sandy.

startThe report was done by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism: A Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence, based at the University of Maryland with support from the Science and Technology Directorate of DHS. The authors are Julia Daisy Fraustino, Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland; Brooke Liu, Associate Professor and START Affiliated Faculty Member at the University of Maryland; and Yan Jin, Associate Professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

In an interview with the authors, published on START’S  website, they explain their overarching goal for writing the report:

“We hope this report can serve as a map for policy makers and emergency managers as they navigate disaster communication decisions,” said Brooke Fisher Liu, START researcher and Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland. “We sought to provide a summary of what is currently known so decision makers don’t have to risk relying on intuition alone or inaccurate information.”

For those of you who are developing training materials, the content could provide very good sourced and referenced background information. Let me know what you found the most interesting.

Think twice before you post that!

Bel Air's Main Street, Winter 2008

Bel Air’s Main Street, Winter 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post by: Kim Stephens

I like some of the aphorisms  about what people should post on their personal social media account that have made their way into policy. My favorite is: “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your momma to see.” Another one I like: “Don’t be stupid.” Some volunteer firefighters in my hometown could have done well to live by either of those rules, but instead three of them have been suspended and a fourth faces a demotion.

Our local online paper exploreharford.com reported yesterday that some Bel Air volunteer firefighters  were upset about not getting a discount at a local Sonic restaurant, even though military and police members do.  One volunteer proceeded to post his displeasure on his personal facebook page and others commented. Reading through some of the statements, it is understandable why they found themselves in a bit of trouble:

  • Even when myself and a full engine crew are in turnout gear at Sonic for lunch, the manager still says only police and military get discounts. Cool, thanks we appreciate the support.
  • Let’s make sure they don’t get a response.
  • Go set the Dumpster on fire.
  • Wait till its on fire, then see what he says.

According to the paper,  the fire chief Eddie Hopkins stated that Bel Air has a social media policy for members, which he said “respects the right to free speech” but does not permit “comments such as I read; we don’t tolerate that.”  Hopkins also said firefighters routinely post photos on Facebook from the scene of fires, “We have had people working on a fire and saying, ‘Isn’t this a cool pic [picture]?'”

“I understand about the photos and comments like that,” he said. “I don’t tolerate what happened here. It’s hurtful to me personally and hurts the credibility of the fire and EMS service.”

Although these posts were made to one of the volunteer’s personal page, this incident should serve as a reminder that nothing you say on a social network is private. If I was a fire chief I’d reinforce my own policy training by printing out this story and reading it to my team. And I would say: DONT BE STUPID!

Read full story here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/news/ph-ag-firefighter-complaint-0606-20120605-8,0,2843042.story

Social Media tells the Story of Storms in Harford County, Maryland

  1. See the original “Storify” version here, with all of the hyperlinks enabled.
    The storm’s approach was widely tweeted and posted to other social networks.
  2. nbcwashington
    Tornado watch for D.C., MD, and VA until 2 a.m. Radar: http://bit.ly/iCjvBg #Breaking #dcwx #mdwx #vawx
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 20:02:36
  3. As damage occurred people and news organizations posted it to social sites.
  4. PayNoDcom
    RT @TxStormChasers: Sign/tree damage photo from Pleasant Hills, MD from TSC volunteer Ryan Sheff #mdwx #tornado #severe http://twitpic.com/9rqbq3
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 10:39:53
  5. doyourpartorg
    Fallston, #Maryland has major damage, collapsed building, people trapped http://goo.gl/6RJfc #Tornado #MSWX
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 21:19:10
  6. Although the tag “MDWX” which stands for Maryland Weather, was widely used, some folks used MSWX–not sure what that means, and “AuntieEM” also popped up as a tag. I thought it demonstrated that people not only have a sense of gallows humor when it comes to disasters, but also that we in the emergency response community have to be prepared to go where the people are!
  7. Escandalo26
    Heading to the basement in Reisterstown. Bringing wine w/ me. #AuntieEm would be proud. @JustinWeather @owingspatch http://pic.twitter.com/QtKzFGBx
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 21:31:33
  8. shayneadamski
    Ha. DC. “@Kim26stephens: Funny–ppl are using #AuntieEm for this weather event. Goes to show, you can’t tell the public which tag to use!”
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 22:35:58
  9. dawnauburn
    Ironic. Tornado today. Going to see the Wizard if OZ tomorrow at Toby’s dinner theater. #auntieem
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 18:44:22
  10. CITYPEEKpatti
    @donnahamiltontv #AuntieEm is trending i just walked my 2 Toto’s in b city http://pic.twitter.com/yhb2LD4f
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 18:38:46
  11. There were a few homes damaged by falling trees. This image was one of the most widely circulated.
  12. MelserWBAL
    RT @AvaWBAL: Dry, breezy and cooler in #Baltimore today for cleanup efforts #MDwx MT @MelserWBAL: How’d you like to wake up to this? http://pic.twitter.com/dmmhBnJr
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 08:44:29
  13. Norma Huczek
    Well…our little town of Bel Air, Maryland made national news tonight because of terrible storms! No fatalities, only minor injuries from downed trees. Some nearby neighbors in Fallston, Maryland had the most damage to property. We still have lots and lots of wind and rain tonight, but our area does have power….whoot! Guess it’s officially summer in Maryland! “The sun will come out tomorrow………yes, indeed ;)”.
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 23:42:36
  14. People also reporting that they made it through without problems.
  15. Adelaide Oehlsen
    Bad storms last nite, small tornado touched down in Fallston, not too far from where we are. We just had lots of rain.
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 11:17:22
  16. Steven Archer
    So this is less than a mile from our house. What’s crazy is all we got is some heavy rain and some downed limbs.
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 09:58:29
  17. People like to tell their disaster stories.
  18. Mary Ann Chenoweth
    Storms last night. Went to Walmart in Fallston, left about 5:44 pm. Then went down Harford Rd, tree down, had to go out to Belair Rd. Should take about 20 minutes to get home, took hour. When I got home, TV said that storms were so bad in Fallston that Walmart had been damaged along with other stores in area. Belair Rd in Fallston was closed down. Guess I just made it. Driving home was heavy rain, wind and darkness at around 6 pm. Didn’t realize it was so bad until I turned on TV
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 07:31:07
  19. The Baltimore Sun and other city papers picked up the story, which was circulated via social networks as well. Interestingly, the Baltimore Sun requested pictures from the storm via their twitter feed.
  20. MdWeather
    Have any pictures from last night’s storms? of #tornado damage? share it: http://photos.baltimoresun.com/2000588606/maryland-now #mdwx #mdweather
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 11:29:36
  21. baltimoresun
    “It sounded just like a freight train.” NWS says tornado likely hit Fallston area of Harford County. http://bsun.md/JG7mCL
    Fri, Jun 01 2012 22:06:51
  22. BaltimoreCP
    The after effects of the storm passing through Maryland has left Fallston with extensive d http://baltimore.cityandpress.com/node/4753873
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 01:32:05
  23. Here is one example of the volunteer and donation spirit coming to the fore, even with a very small, localized event.
  24. Heather Ziehl
    The Calm AFTER The Storm – My heart goes out to ALL that were affected by the tornadoes throughout Maryland and Virginia last night. A tornado touched down in Fallston, MD just a few miles from our home. I’m thankful and happy to report that our family and friends are all ok.For those of you in our community still without power, I just got off the phone with NVS Salon & Spa; they’re setting up complimentary shampoo and blow-dry stations for your use.
    Sat, Jun 02 2012 07:59:42