Personal Preparedness Meets Digital – FEMA

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Personal Preparedness Meets Digital – FEMA

Shayne AdamskiOn July 9th, the Subcommittee Hearing: Emergency MGMT 2.0: How #SocialMedia & New Tech are Transforming Preparedness, Response, & Recovery #Disasters #Part2 #Govt/NGOs is presented by the DHS website and may be viewed: http://homeland.house.gov/hearing/emergency-mgmt-20-how-socialmedia-new-tech-are-transforming-preparedness-response-recovery and live via CSPAN here: Emergency Responders Discuss Social Network Tools

Washington, DC
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Federal, state and private emergency responders describe how they are adapting social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to meet natural and man-made disasters. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) chairs the hearing.

At FEMA, they often share how Americans could use technology to be “digitally prepared.”

In Written testimony by FEMA Senior Manager of Digital Engagement Shayne Adamski () for the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications hearing titled “Emergency MGMT 2.0: How #SocialMedia & New Tech are Transforming Preparedness, Response, & Recovery, Mr. Adamski included some of those items in his lengthy and enlightening remarks.

From Mr. Adamski:

“To ensure they are prepared, we encourage people to take these steps:

  • Store useful phone numbers in their phone, including numbers for local police, fire departments, and their utility company;
  • Create a group of emergency contacts in their cell phone;
  • Educate themselves on what social media tools are being used by their state, local, tribal and territorial emergency management offices, so that they are able to quickly access them in the event of an emergency;
  • Have an extra battery for their phone (or a solar charger) in their emergency kit;
  • Update their social media channels in the aftermath of a disaster to let their friends and family know they are safe by simply texting “I’m OK”; and
  • Know how to use text messaging to check in with friends and family after a disaster.

Many social media sites also allow users to update their status via text message, and I would encourage the public to become familiar with how to do so.”

In his report to the Subcommittee, Mr. Adamski summarizes:

  • “Social media is imperative to emergency management because the public uses these communication tools regularly. Rather than trying to convince the public to adjust to the way we at FEMA traditionally communicated, we have adapted to the way the public communicates, leveraging the tools they use on a daily basis. Millions of Americans use social media every day to check in on friends and family, learn about current events, and share their experiences. FEMA uses social media to be part of this ongoing dialogue and meet people where they are, using tools and platforms they are already familiar with.
  • FEMA also uses social media and other digital methods to communicate because as we have seen, information can lead to action. Our goal is for our safety-related information to have a real-world impact – to inspire actions that lead to more resilient families and communities. If someone sees a preparedness or safety tip from FEMA, the goal is that it will inspire them to prepare or empower them to tell a friend how to be more prepared or where to find help.
  • Finally, social media and technology allow us to reach more people more quickly during disasters, when they need accurate, timely and, authoritative information that helps ensure the protection of their life or livelihood. With one click of the mouse, or one swipe on their smartphone’s screen, a message is capable of being spread to thousands of people and have a tangible impact.”

You may read the entire report here: Written testimony of FEMA Senior Manager of Digital Engagement Shayne Adamski for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications

The hashtag #SMEM stands for social media for emergency management and has been in use for some time now.  It was mentioned at an International Association of Emergency Managers conference and quickly gained use.

Out of the #SMEM group comes the account @SMEMchat and hash tag #SMEMchat, where emergency management people get together on Friday and discuss a variety of topics related to the use of social media.  These discussions have resulted in several interesting idea being brought to the table related to social media use in emergencies and crises.

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