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SOCIAL MEDIA AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT. 2010 Gulf States Hurricane Conference June 2-4, 2010 Mobile, AL. Steve Dover, Public Information Officer Talladega County (AL) EMA. Background Information. Population: 80,242 (2009 Census Bureau estimate) Area: 753 square miles

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Social media and emergency management


2010 Gulf States Hurricane Conference

June 2-4, 2010

Mobile, AL

Steve Dover, Public Information Officer

Talladega County (AL) EMA

Background information
Background Information

  • Population: 80,242 (2009 Census Bureau estimate)

  • Area: 753 square miles

  • Major Waterways: Coosa River (western boundary)

  • Major Highways: Interstate 20, US Highway 21, 78 and 280

  • 4 incorporated cities

  • Northern Boundary: Anniston Army Depot

The word on the street
The word on the street…

“With hurricane season starting June 1, everyone from emergency managers to hurricane forecasters to traditional media plan to take advantage of Twitter, Facebook and the like to increase their reach.”

Ken Kaye, Sun Sentinel – May 23, 2010 “Social media expected to play role during hurricane season”

The word on the street1
The word on the street…

“For government agencies, social media not only sends and gathers information instantaneously — it fosters relationships and trust, while encouraging users to share important information…agency engagement with these platforms can help show people that government organizations are listening.” May 2010

“How Social Media is Changing Government Agencies”

How we use them
How We Use Them

  • Facebook and Twitter are mainly used for daily information sharing

    • Daily weather forecasts

    • Emergency Management articles

    • Severe Weather information (Watches, Warnings, Damage Reports, etc)

    • Have a second Twitter account for following

  • YouTube is used to post original and borrowed videos that reinforce our mission.

  • Blogger is used for blogging safety and preparedness information

  • BlogTalkRadio in the works

  • NIXLE is our newest tool!


  • Brings credibility to your organization at a time when it is likely to be most needed.

  • Allows for real-time information to be disseminated to concerned citizens, responders, employees and the media.

  • Guarantees your message will be heard.

  • You can disseminate your information how you want and as quickly as you want.

  • Allows for an efficient way to defend your brand and reputation.


  • The most positive aspect of all social media forms is that it is a cost-effective way to communicate with local citizens on a daily basis about the mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts already underway by your organization.

  • It also “breaks down the walls” of government and increases transparency which is a huge push in most public administrated organizations.


  • Security issues

    • Facebook, Phishing and Virus’

      • “Facebook Attracts More Phishing Attacks Than Google and IRS” – Jennifer Van Grove, Mashable, May 12, 2010

        • FB comes in 4th behind PayPal, eBay and HSBC (Survey by Kaspersky Lab)


  • Who is responsible for content management?

    • You? Team? Do you let your boss play?

  • Identifying and reaching all the communities naturally suited to social networking.

    • Do you have “pockets” of residents who are less suited for social media/networking? How do you address them?

  • Adding value with what we transmit and recognizing the power of these tools.

    • Where do we draw the line between adding value and overloading?

    • Do we really recognize the power of the tools before us?

  • Examples

    • Umatilla Chemical Depot

    • Oregon/Washington

    • Annual CSEPP Exercise

    • Implemented Twitter into this years exercise

    • Used media monitors at remote locations nationwide

    • ENN also used Twitter as part of their media profile for Umatilla exercise

    Road Closures

    ARC Shelter Info

    Situation Update

    Media Info


    LINE THE STREETS WITH LOVE/Support for family of Kyle Comfort

    Overnight – 100

    Next Day – 300

    Final - 1034


    • Make social media efforts message driven, not channel driven.

    • Keep messages brief and pertinent. People are not really reading – they are scanning.

    • Make sure you can receive public input. Social media is not just about you talking to the public; it also is about them talking to you and to each other.

    • Use social media to support a unified message. Instead of creating a new message for social media, use social media to support your existing message in a larger communications model.

      Homeland Security Today article “Incorporating Social Media into Disaster Communications”, by Mickey McCarter (August 3, 2009)