Tag Archives: Queensland Police

QPS Media Story Never Gets Old!

Post by: Kim Stephens

Special Emergency Response Team (Queensland)

Special Emergency Response Team (Queensland) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

July 12, 2012 ZDNET posted a story recounting the amazing experience of Queensland Police Service and their use of social media during the January 2011 floods in Australia. Reading it reminded me of why I find the cause of social media and emergency/crisis communications so compelling. There are numerous quotes from Kym Charlton- executive director of the Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) media and public affairs branch, that could headline a social media and emergency management conference. Each of her statements seem to address the question “Why should I use social media to communicate with the public during a crisis?”

Here’s what they learned:

  • Bypass the Media as the message filter and provide hyper-local information:

“We were able to pump out a whole lot of information that we knew wouldn’t make the mainstream media; they just wouldn’t have picked up that volume of information. It was quite low level, but it was really important if it was about your area,” she said.

  • Get information out in a timely fashion:

“Rather than me sitting in a disaster-management meeting, listening to the premier being briefed, taking notes, going out and giving it to someone to write a media release, then spending the rest of the day chasing around incredibly busy people to clear the information, I started to post status updates as I heard the premier being briefed,” she said.

  • Expect to work long days:

“For example, the day that the Lockyer Valley flooded was the same day that Brisbane and Ipswich realised there was going to be a major flood. All of a sudden, you had the entire population of both cities desperately trying to work out if their houses were going to flood. A lot of people weren’t here in 1974; also, there are way more houses [now] than there used to be. We saw a huge jump of people coming to the page to find that information.” On that particular day, 10 January, Charlton sent her first and last tweets at 4.45am and 11.45pm, respectively.

  • Expect a huge increase in the amount of people accessing your social pages. 

“The numbers surrounding 10 January are astonishing. The QPS Facebook page received 39 million individual story views — the equivalent of 450 page impressions per second — while being updated by staff every 10 minutes or so. (“That amount of traffic would have crashed both our public website and our operational website,” Charlton noted.)

Their Facebook audience grew from 16,500 on 9 January to 165,000 within a fortnight; many of those joined the page during the 24-hour period following the Lockyer Valley torrent. Overnight, the QPS social-media accounts had become a lifejacket to which many Queenslanders clung.

  • Establish your social presence before an event occurs.

“We were in that wonderful position where we knew enough to be able to use it [during the floods],” she said. “It wasn’t a decision where anyone said, OK, we’re going to focus on social media’. We just started doing it because it worked.”

  • Don’t advertise the goods, just deliver them.

“…QPS is just one shining star within a tight-knit constellation of Australian police departments that live and breathe social media each day. None of them have spent a single cent on advertising or promoting these channels; fittingly, they’ve all developed organically through networked word of mouth.”

End result: “…connect humans with one another, and to share meaningful information immediately.”

Thank you QPS Media and ZDNet for reminding us all of this amazing story and example to live up to!

Should you Cross-Post to Social Platforms? What does FEMA do?

Post by: Kim Stephens
twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

The other day in a SMEMchat we debated (briefly) the pros and cons of cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, particularly the practice of posting to Twitter from Facebook–not necessarily dual  posting from a third party application such as Hootesuite or Tweetdeck. I recalled reading that this was problematic in a scholarly article by  Axel Bruns, et al (see page 12). They were writing about QPS Media (yes, I know everyone is a little tired of me bringing them up) during the flood event of January, 2011. They stated in the report:

Indeed, the social media use of several of these organisations underwent a rapid development process as the emergency unfolded; this is best illustrated using the example of the official Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Queensland Police Service (QPS). Initially, QPS had mainly shared its own advisories and news updates through its Facebook page, with messages automatically crossposted to Twitter. This was problematic for a number of reasons, however: first, the lower 140 character limit for messages on Twitter, compared to Facebook, caused several of these crossposted messages to be truncated and thus unusable (especially when embedded hyperlinks were broken in the process); additionally, this also meant that users on Twitter may first have had to navigate from Twitter to Facebook, to see the full, original message, and then to follow any embedded links to their eventual destination; and even this may only have been possible for users who already had Facebook accounts.

Further, for reasons of site design, Facebook messages are more difficult to share with a larger number of users than those on Twitter, where a simple click of the ‘retweet’ button passes on an incoming message to all of one’s followers; and similarly, ongoing conversations are more difficult to manage on Facebook – where the amount of commentary attached to each of the QPS’s posts was rapidly swamping important information – than on Twitter; indeed, Facebook knows no equivalent to the concept of the hashtag, which allows a large number of users to conduct an open, ongoing, public discussion centred around a common topic. These shortcomings were quickly (and courteously) explained to the QPS media staff by a number of vocal Twitter users, and the QPS used its @QPSmedia Twitter account prominently throughout the rest of the flood crisis.

I have also heard Shayne Adamski, the Senior Manager of Digital Engagement Public Affairs Division, Office of External Affairs at FEMA speak several times and mention that they too craft messages specifically for each platform, for a myriad of reasons. He graciously agreed to an interview and in a follow-up email he stated:

“When it comes to using social media sites to communicate and have a conversation, we don’t write one message and then post it on both Twitter and Facebook.  We write our message for the platform we’re using.  On Twitter, we use any appropriate hashtags that will add value to the message and when appropriate, we cross-link to other Twitter accounts.  On Facebook, because the character limit is much higher than 140 characters, we take the time and write a longer message to take advantage of the fact that we have more room to work with, and when appropriate, we cross-link to other Facebook accounts.  We will also RT messages on Twitter and Share content on Facebook, so it appears in our respective timelines.”

Shayne provided  examples of messages  tailored to the respective platforms. The first pic is of a post to their Facebook account about severe weather. The second is the same day, with the same concept, but the post looks completely different on Twitter.

Shayne went on to state:

“Obviously, during a response, your time is even more limited compared to steady state and you’re being pulled in multiple directions, but there is value in writing the message for the platform you’re using.  And just like anything, practice makes perfect, so utilize the time you have during steady state to practice and get in the habit of writing for the platform.”

From my perspective, I think it is important to also note that different social platforms have different audiences, and the ability to tailor content to target these different groups is one of the great advantages of using social tools. Furthermore, Twitter and Facebook have really different “languages.” I’ve seen organizations post content on their Facebook page so that it reads well on Twitter, including hashtags and acronyms. For those people who are not also on Twitter, this cannot only be #confusing, but also extremely #annoying. Just because something is easier to do doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do.
Tell me if you think I’m off track here!

December List: QPS Media, An example to the world

Post by: Kim Stephens

Flooding in Ipswich.

Image via Wikipedia

The year of 2011, for me, is the year the Queensland Police Service in Australia or QPSMedia (responsible for all of the State’s public safety communications) demonstrated to the world the effectiveness of using social networks to inform and interact with the public during a large-scale disaster. Their efforts came to the world’s attention after extensive flooding in January.  Numerous articles (see this scribd presentation by me) and even scholarly studies have accessed their social media activities during that event, some of the most important:

But what makes a public agency’s social media presence a successful example worth mimicking?  Is it a measure of how often they tweet, post, and blog (e.g. how much information is pushed)? Is it a measure of  followers and “likes”?  Is it how many comments they receive on any given blog or facebook post?

I think the better questions to ask of public safety organizations are: Did the activity result in behavioral changes that ultimately saved lives; did it change people’s trust in the government itself (and therefore increase the trust in the information being disseminated); and/or did it give the government entity an ability to create a channel of common discourse, or  engagement (perhaps which would facilitate the previous points).  The last proposition was put forward by Colman and Blumler in their book “The Internet and Democratic Citizenship: Theory, Practice and Policy” and examined in context of the Queensland flood event by  Dr. Axel Bruns in his article “Towards Distributed Participation listed above.

Dr. Bruns outlines how QPSMedia did not disseminate information in a one-way flow but rather tailored their media campaign to match the way the  community wanted to obtain information based on feedback received throughout the event. He cites several examples, such as how they quickly adopted the twitter hashtag used by most citizens and stopped automatically posting their twitter messages to their Facebook page:  problems associated with this albeit easier way to post were pointed out by their citizens and they adjusted accordingly. QPSMedia also reposted information from citizens on the ground and made a point to both ask and answer questions via both platforms. Dr. Bruns sums up why this was so important:

Social media provided one such channel of common discourse between Queensland citizens and their government institutions, and – with the permission and indeed with the active help and support of citizens – the various accounts of these institutions were able to place themselves in key positions within the social networks emerging around the flood crisis, but only because they chose to engage and respond rather than simply push out information.

On another note, QPSMedia’s Facebook page is just SO cool. They have not rested on their laurels and continue to make improvements that truely make them a world-class act to follow. For example, they recently added a new tab called QLDAlert, still in Beta and it is also a stand-alone website. This tab contains the live twitter feeds of the following organizations:

  • Bureau of Meteorolgy Queensland Warnings
  • Road Conditions (Queensland Government Traffic and information)
  • SEQ Public Transport Info
  • Queensland Rail
  • QPSMedia
  • QLDFire
  • Queensland State Emergency Services Information
  • Australian Broadcast Company Radio
  • ABC News Queensland
  • Energx
  • Brisbane City Council

QPSMedia also continues to engage their citizens on a daily basis via their online presence, posting to the Facebook page multiple times per day and doing things such as hosting Live chats: today’s event “Domestic and Family Violence”. These chats are also archived right there on the site.

Visit them and dig around a little. They have examples to follow on every screen.

Others on my December List:

See also Patrice Cloutier’s James Garrow’s lists of the best of SMEM.

Aussies Establish a Wiki to Distribute Social Media Best Practices

Social Media Strategy Transit Map

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

Post by: Kim Stephens

Social media is still somewhat new for emergency management and related disciplines and therefore sharing information and best practices (and even failures) continues to be important. This is one of the goals I have for my own blog and is a driving force behind a lot of great sites: Canadian Patrice Cloutier’s Crisis Comms Command Post, 999socialmedia from Great Britain, Cheryl Bledsoe’s  sm4em.org, Jim Garrow’s blog The Face of the Matter,  as well as the U.S. DHS  sponsored First Responder’s Community of Practice (FRCOP). (The problem with a list is that you inevitably leave someone out–see my blog roll for a longer list.)

As can be gleaned from my list, lessons and best practices do not have to be limited to the United States. Earlier this year I wrote extensively about Australia and the Queensland Police Service‘s use of social media during the unprecedented flooding in January and then the subsequent Tsunami. Their example is truly something to be emulated and they continue to be a world leader in the use of social media for emergency management. These disasters spurred the Gov 2.0 (gov2qld) initiative in Queensland to explore how social media was used in disasters and to determine how best to share those lessons as well as new “learnings”.  They decided a Wiki would be the best platform not only for knowledge sharing but also for collaboration. The platform that was ultimately created is for use by all disciplines and stakeholders: emergency, government, not for profit, community, business, education and media. They also were interested in including  the public in order to ensure they have the knowledge “to use social media to better prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.”Find their site here: Emergency 2.0 wiki.

As a side note, this effort really highlights how social media has brought collaboration and cooperation across emergency managers internationally. I love the fact that they have the #SMEM twitter hashtag rolling on their opening page. They also list many U.S. blogs (including my own and sm4em.org) on their resource page. Many in the Australian Emergency Management community also participate on the #SMEM hashtag (but not the chats since they are in the middle of the night for them). The hashtag is where I first saw them announce the wiki.

International collaboration is certainly one of FEMA’s goals. Just today, on the FEMA blog, they posted about International Partnerships and discussed how the Administrator Fugate and Deputy Administrator Serino met with they Russian emergency management counterparts in Boston.  “Unbeknownst to many, building and strengthening our partnerships with the international community is a large focus for us at FEMA.” We,  it seems,  in the SMEM community, have somewhat unwittingly created international collaboration as well. As the FEMA blog post stated:

“We may live in vastly different places, but we’re part of the same team – and we have a lot to learn from each other in the international community.”

Watch this video about how the QLD wiki got started and the goals for their site.

The fourth essential use of social media in a crisis.

Post by: Kim Stephens

Gislio Olfassan, who has “been involved in disaster management related activities for the past 16 years, both nationally [in Iceland] and internationally,” recently wrote on his blog that there are essentially three uses of social media in disasters:

  • Advocacy and Fundraising – utilizing social media to interact more closely with people donating and influencing public opinion
  • Information Sharing with affected communities – reaching out during disasters to the affected community with information about services, threats, etc.
  • Information Management – utilizing the social media platforms to collect, process, analyze and disseminate information required for organizations to do their work

There are many others, I think, but today, I would like to add a fourth:

  • Information Sharing with concerned citizens–reaching out to those outside of the impacted area who might reside in a nearby region, state, in the country, or on the other side of the world (think of them as concentric circles emanating from a pebble dropped in water). These people will have either an active or a passive interest.

The role of informing citizens about disasters around the world has traditionally been held by the news media. But if someone has a more active interest, for example,  relatives or friends in the impacted area, or they are interested in helping remotely, then the news media is basically irrelevant.   For example, ChristChurch, New Zealand has suffered a devastating earthquake, but most US national news outlets have devoted maybe 3 minutes TOTAL to the story.  This is not a new problem, but social media is filling the information gap.

What does this mean to your response organization?

When using social media you are not only informing the affected community, but you are involved in informing and engaging a much broader audience. You can use this platform to educate this audience about how to help vs. hinder the response effort (I’m not addressing volunteers in this category, they use social media for “information management” purposes, mentioned above by Gislio). There are many ways interest in a crisis can hinder you. One concern I’ve heard voiced (which isn’t necessarily borne out by fact) is that if people have a lot of details about an event (e.g. location, etc.) they might show up to “look”. Curious people, however, can bog down traditional internet sites intended for survivors. There is also a concern (warranted or not) that people might repeat non-factual information. Is this a reason for less information, less engagement, or more?  I argue that these are all reasons for more information, especially information disseminated through social media platforms which won’t cave under the pressure of the world’s eyes.

If informed, the broader public can help the response effort in many ways. Here are just a few examples:

  • Amplify the “official” message by repeating factual information originally posted by response organizations.
  • Answer questions posed by either other interested citizens, or by the affected community (and knock down false information or rumors).
  • The public can be educated to stay off of internet sites intended for survivors, which can crash from overload.

1. Interest by-standers will amplify your message: (see also the related blog post by James Hamilton)

After analyzing data from the flooding in Australia, the research project called New Media and Public Communication: Mapping Australian User-Created Content in Online Social Networks, based at Queensland University of Technology determined “somewhat surprisingly (since it was relatively unknown before the crisis), the Queensland Police Service’s @QPSmedia account emerges as a clear frontrunner” in terms of receiving the most @replies and the most re-tweets. A message that is re-tweeted means an exponential growth in those that see the message. It doesn’t matter if the re-tweeter is sitting next door to the impacted area of half a world away–just because I live far away doesn’t mean I don’t know people who have been affected.

2. The public will answer questions posed by others

Just because your response organization is participating on a social media platform or even actively engaging in a hashtag on twitter doesn’t mean you have to answer every single question posed. The information you and volunteers organizations are streaming will add to the knowledge base of the entire user community and they will start to answer each other’s questions based on that correct information as well as deny false information. As an example, Google during the ChristChurch crisis (although not a traditional response organization) very quickly put up a person finder application. This message was often repeated (I don’t have details on how many times) and I’ve also seen examples where individuals guided those looking for loved-ones to that google site. See this blog post.

3. The public can be educated about dos and dont’s with regard to social media and internet use (e.g. stay off internet sites intended for survivors).

Sending people to a website from a facebook page or from a twitter account can cause that site to crash. But if you don’t have a social media presence then the site will surely crash because it will be the only place for people to get information. Usually it’s not just survivors viewing these pages but anyone with an interest. However, you can teach the broader public to understand this problem just by talking about it. People for the most part are very respectful when they understand an issue. Furthermore, the more information you are able to provide on third-party social media platforms, the less this will be a problem to begin with.

This obviously is just a sampling of why social media platforms are important in a crisis, but one last word of caution, make sure you get involved in these mediums before a major crisis hits, otherwise, you will be playing “catch-up” and that’s never a fun game during a disaster.

How to help New Zealand:

See also: The Yellow Tape Conundrum in Social Media and Emergency Management, by Adam S. Crowe.

Social Media, Speed vs. Command Control: Australia QPS media weighs in.

Post by: Kim Stephens
Recently, a common debate occurred on the hashtag #SMEM (social media and emergency management): speed vs. command control. The article on the blog Homeland1,”Social Media have become the Elephant in the EOC” is a good overall summary of the continuous discussion. From that article:

“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.

Hal Grieb also wrote about the issue on this blog last year that the NIMS framework is not necessarily the problem:
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.
I briefly summarized these concerns and forwarded this conversation to a person in the Australian Queensland Police Service Public media shop in order to get a some understanding about how they were able to so nimbly use social media platforms during the recent crises there.
Here’s what I asked him:
“We worry about the speed of social media vs. the speed of command/control. How were you all able to react so quickly? Here, messages are approved by the incident commander to ensure “unity of command”. Also, how do you all deal with open data? Is that something you discuss at all?
Here are some of the tweets from our debate:
  • There has to be a two-fold process that includes both external affairs and operations for situational awareness (including a feedback loop)
  • Review/approval components need to be addressed. (There’s a need to be first but there’s also a need to be right.)
  • But, does the speed of social media doesn’t match the speed of command/control?
  • Here is his response:
    “Why does your organisation need a rigid vertical approval process if/when you are publishing non-controversial, factual information? Your staff does not need to be micro managed.  They professionally and efficiently communicate on behalf of your agency every day. Learning to communicate via social media is just like learning any other professional communication skill.  Every medium has different issues and potential pitfalls.  Social Media is not rocket science, it’s just new.
    Obviously anything sensitive or complex needs to get passed up the chain for approval.  Kym our director is inseparable from her iPad and she can often deal with high level issues herself on the spot.
    [I thought these were his key points.]
    • 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!

    More Social Media Lessons from QPS in Australia: If we don’t listen, how can we hear?

    Post by: Kim Stephens

    I have written about the Australian Queensland Police Service and their brilliant use of social media for emergency response before. I have continued to track their feeds, and I have a few more insights into their success that I would like to share. I asked them a few questions by simply sending a tweet with their name in it: @QPSMedia. Their reputation for responsiveness is well-deserved; whoever was monitoring their twitter feed simply asked me “What do you want to know?” I didn’t want to monopolize their time, since they are currently still in response/recovery mode from the recent cyclone, but I did manage to get two questions in.

    1.If people post on SM that they need help (e.g. stranded etc.) do you have a legal obligation to respond?  Here in U.S.,  emergency managers fear social media replacing 911. Emergency Managers also fear that needs posted thru social media sets them up for lawsuits if they don’t respond.

    The QPS media person responded: “We state the SM is NOT the best way 2 get emergency help, however we did arrange an evac after a tweet during #qldfloods. [It’s] only a matter of time. [before Social Media replaces 911]. It is something we’ll be looking at in the debrief.”

    “we’re planning a conference in a couple of months to share what we’ve learned. How’s that for an excuse for a trip to Qld? :)”

    2.Did you monitor Social Media sites 24/7? How much staff was required?

    “We do monitor 24/7.” The entire media team has about 25 people and one person is a social media specialist. They found the need to add volunteers to aid with all of the duties (see comment below). I  also received an email that they were planning for reinforcements with the hiring of 2 assistants as of Feb. 14th.   As a point of reference, the population in Queensland has about 4.5 million (as of 2006). Their facebook page has 172,000 fans and their twitter feed is followed by 11,000 people. (That should help response organizations understand about how much staff would be required for maintaining a social media presence during a large-scale event).

    The QPS media director added a clarification in a comment to this post:

    One clarifier: my tweet didn’t make it clear that 25- person team was the TOTAL number of staff, to cover off on a 24 hour roster, which means it is not unusual for one person overnight to be dealing with mainstream media inquiries as well as the SM.

    Until the floods, we had one person who was a SM specialist, but his position was rapidly bolstered by an additional two officers. During the height of the flooding, we actually tweeted for volunteer SM interns to assist us, and got some wonderful help from a nice young bloke who put his life on hold for two weeks to come work his butt off in the media room.

    3. Listening to the public is just as important and “talking”/providing information.

    So what else can we learn from their experience even now, before they’ve even had a chance to compile their thoughts? The investment in staff demonstrates their investment in the medium and in the amount of intended engagement. The 25 media people do not just “push” information to citizens, they monitor comments and engage people when they ask questions. This, I think, has enabled a deft response effort. I cringe when I hear response organizations here in the U.S. state that they will be happy to post on social media sites, but they have literally turned off the ability for citizens to comment. This is a HUGE mistake, in my opinion. Here’s a few examples to demonstrate why.

    • Comments on seemingly innocuous posts can turn into valuable situational awareness information.

    Here is a simple post “drinking water and ice have been delivered to….” In the comments, however, we see a problem: A person asks “What about Cardwell?” Immediately, QPS answers “Are you saying Carwell needs water…we’ll pass along info”.

    Another person comments, but this is a responder: He states: I’m SES (State Emergency Service person) and we had residents begging us for water in Carwell on Sat., we passed it up the chain and assumed it was fixed and we weren’t tasked to that area again. We assumed the army brought it in. Follow up please and make sure that they are a) supplied water and b) if its already there let them know where to get it.”

    Four hours later, QPS puts up this post: “Update from Cardwell“. They do exactly what the SES asks and they include a long post with the information on exactly where people can get water.

    Now think what would have happened if people were not allowed to comment at all. The QPS would have been very proud that they had delivered water and would not have been aware that there was a perceived problem. As an example of their personal touch, the QPS even addressed the original questioner directly by stating “Kamilla, see our update.” With regard to the responders input,  here in the United States, I doubt that our current Incident Command System would have allowed for the SES person to post on the comment section at all. However, his post is invaluable for the public to see. It demonstrates that emergency services thought they had addressed the problem  and therefore, maybe its just an issue of residents not getting the word. It also demonstrates his concern and therefore the concern of all response organizations. This type open and honest exchange can go a long way towards stemming people’s anger and/or frustration.

    • Answering questions helps quell rumors.

    In a great article by blogger Robert Hook, “All in a Twitter“, he gives an example of how NOT to use social media as per the TransLinkSEO. Translink’s mission on their twitter profile:  “Tweeting major service disruptions, public transport news, upcoming service changes and events in SEQ. We’re usually online 9-5 Mon-Fri.” Unfortunately, their style of tweeting left a lot to be desired. Instead of answering questions directly, they made broad statements and sent patrons to their website via a link in the tweet. This is problematic because most people view those tweets on smart phones, and going to a hyperlink that isn’t an app is clunky at best.

    During the floods, there were many transit disruptions, on one particular day a rumor started that all public transport would stop at 2PM. There were many direct tweets to Translink asking if this was true.  As Mr. Hook explained in his article “the ONLY response in return was to keep repeating that they had a page with service statuses on it.” The biggest non-surprise, was that this led to their website melting down. I like his conclusions:

    Successful use of Twitter as a meaningful and important information and communication tool recognised a handful of very key features of the service that distinguish it from many other services:

    • it is more like a broadcast service than an asynchronous service like a web page;
    • messages should be considered ephemeral and only made meaningful by currency;
    • the tiny messages mean that it is accessible through an extremely broad range of mobile devices;
    • a very significant number of users use Twitter via mobile devices;
    • the infrastructure has evolved and been designed to support a staggeringly large number of simultaneous requests;
    • relevant information-rich messages are spread further and live longer than information-poor messages;
    • the service is inherently a two-way information flow, and questions and criticisms that flow back are indicators of errors or inadequacies in the outgoing flow.

    I think the biggest take-away is that engaging the public is NOT something to be avoided and taking comments and questions through social media platforms does not hinder response efforts –it absolutely aids them.

    If we don’t listen, how can we hear?

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