Disaster Zone

Social Media in the Emergency Management Field

The first report of this type that I've seen.

by Eric Holdeman / July 10, 2013

See the Social Media in the Emergency Management Field study that was done in concert with the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA).


While there have been many studies dealing with the public’s use of social media this is the first one I know of that looked at the use of social media by emergency management agencies.  While the percentage of county and local emergency management agencies who participated in the study is low, I'm betting the responses are pretty representative of the general usage of social media by all agencies.   


I encourage you to read the entire study and learn from it.  Here are some major points and opinions that I picked up from reading the document:


  • We have turned the corner on emergency management agencies understanding that social media is important.
  • It is still seen as a "push" system with little utility being shown for mining social media for better situational awareness.
  • I think people and agencies are overrating their knowledge of social media and its capabilities.
  • The fact that Public Information Officers (PIO) are the major users shows that the operational benefits of social media are not understood.
  • The identified need for "dedicated social media personnel" shows the lack of understanding that the manner in which we do our jobs is changing.  For example:  Who are your "dedicated email staff?"  Who are your "dedicated Internet staff?"  Everybody is now using those tools.  The nature of how we do our jobs has changed radically since the introduction of email and webpages.  So too, social media will change how "we" do our jobs.  Everyone needs to be using social media.
  • Analytic tools are needed to sort through the mass of social media.  Watch for more information coming in a few months on FirstToSee  We are on the cusp of being able to do some of what is needed to solve this issue.
  • Verified information is valued and trusted.  Thus--if people understood crowdsourcing they would have more confidence in social media information.
Lastly an administrative note.  The Blogger identified in the footnote on page 12 was me.  Oops!  I made that mistake.  But, the responses did take a jump after folks had the right link from Disaster Zone