Tag Archives: White House

Should Your Emergency Management Agency be on Vine?

Post by: Kim Stephens

vine-logoSome consideration ought to be given to adding the new video-sharing-mobile-application from Twitter called “Vine” to your Public Safety Organization’s communications toolbox. However, if you don’t have teenagers in your house you might not be sure what Vine is or what it could do for your organization. Currently, Vine is one of fastest growing video-sharing apps and tops Apple’s app download chart. Some Federal entities have noticed: the White House is already taking advantage of this new means of connecting to their audience and GovLoop recently posted an article titled “Vine: Government’s 6 seconds to Shine.”

What is it?

For detailed  background information on this new social sharing application, see Twitter’s FAQ page here, but in a nutshell, Vine allows users to post very short (only 6 seconds) of video content to the application via a smartphone. Other Vine users can follow you to see your posts, however, content is easily shared via either Facebook or Twitter and can also be embedded in a blog (as demonstrated below). In fact, “A post on Vine cannot be viewed outside of the Vine app unless it is shared on Twitter or Facebook, in which case a link for the video will be made publicly available.” The Vines loop–so unless you click away from the video it continues to play over and over, although this can be a bit annoying, it is actually pretty good feature for getting your point across.


Public Safety and Emergency Management organizations are having a hard enough time finding resources to post interesting content to the “big 3” social media sites–YouTube, Facebook and Twitter–so thinking about adding responsibility for another social network might seem ludicrous. However, in my opinion, the forced brevity of Vine actually makes it a great tool for preparedness messages and maybe even for protective action information/demonstrations. In terms of preparedness messaging, this video below is intended to be funny versus instructional, but it inspired me, nonetheless. (Click the x to hear the sound–otherwise it is muted.)

Although the Vine above is shot all at once, a great feature of the app is the ability to stop the action. Once recording from within the Vine app, to stop the scene you simply tap the screen of your smartphone and then tap again to restart.  This feature makes it a great way to create instructional snippets without having to edit the content post-production. See this cringe-worthy “How to Fail” video below by the same slapstick comedian from above (I hope this young man has a good relationship with his local EMTs).

Adding very short video content to your Agency’s Tweets and Facebook posts could be a very valuable asset. Instead of saying: If you catch on fire remember to “Stop Drop and Roll” you could actually demonstrate what to do. Similar demonstrations could be done for “Duck, Cover and Hold On” or  “Don’t drown–Turn Around.” Increasingly this is an image driven society–this tool provides another way to insert ourselves into the conversation.

Let me know–is your Agency considering Vine or have you already started using this tool? I’d love to see some public safety examples.

Huff Post blogger calls for investment in collaborative technology.

Huffington Post blogger, John D. Volpe, in a post entitled “Where Obama Should Invest Now” addressed the question of why the US government’s mapping tool deployed by the US Army in Pakistan, called HARMONIEweb, is not as effective as the crowdsourced products outlined in the Wired Danger Room’s report. I also mentioned those crowdsourced products, which include Ushahidi and Crisiscommons,  in my post yesterday. I asked the question: Will government agencies utilize existing social media and crisis mapping tools or feel compelled to pay contractors to create unique applications?

In Mr. Volpe’s piece, he argues that the US government should invest in building a proper infrastructure for disaster response, “perhaps even using Ushahidi’s collaborative platform.” However, he somewhat contradicts himself in the following statement:  [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=pakistan+floods&iid=9784269″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9784269/flood-victims-carry-their/flood-victims-carry-their.jpg?size=500&imageId=9784269″ width=”234″ height=”155″ /]

The bottom line is that we cannot continue to primarily rely on the open-source community to guide our military humanitarian efforts, disaster relief or other essential services. If the White House made the decision [to invest $250 million into this project]…by Thanksgiving, I believe that one-year later:

  • The State Department would have a robust tool conducing and measuring public diplomacy;
  • The Pentagon would have tools for managing humanitarian aid;
  • The Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force would have the resources to truly help military families in need;
  • The Education Secretary would have a tool for keeping in constant contact with teachers, parents and students about the issues of the day and areas to improve; and
  • Law enforcement would have the tools necessary to curb violent and white-collar crimes.

The author states that if the investment were made: “Jobs would be created. Lives changed. And with everything that’s bad going on, what’s better than creating opportunities for Americans to go back to work and help their country.”

Maybe. But here’s what my cynical self thinks would happen: Big-time contractors would win the bids for the $250 million and then would completely recreate the wheel (e.g. HARMONIEweb 2.0); to continue the analogy, the wheel would not fit any cars currently made, and would have a proprietary system associated with it, so that when it goes flat, only that company would be able to fix it.

Maybe I’m being too cynical…