If you haven't picked up on it, the world of Emergency Management is a-buzz with talk about Social Media. In many recent emergencies, from the Australian floods, Egyptian revolt to the Midwest icestorm, Twitter, Facebook and Blogs have played an increasingly important part in both dissemination of information and in providing a medium for gathering information from the public.
But of course there is a lot for us to think about: how reliable is all this information? Do false rumors spread like wildfire (or icestorms)? How do you get information out into the "blogosphere" or "tweetverse"? How do you get started? Is there a simple place to get the basics?
Well the good news is that help is at hand. Twitter is no longer just the home of spotty teenagers, and there are some really good resources popping up. Here are my recommendations
1. Take a look at the website sm4em.org. This is a new site run by a leading emergency manager with great resources for getting started.
2. Check out what FEMA is doing - their blog, the twitter account of Craig Fugate, head of FEMA, and their news release on Social Media tools
3. Check out the #smem tag search on Twitter. You don't need an account, just go to this search page and take a look at some of the things people are posting about Social Media and Emergency Management.
4. Join us for #smemchat! Every Friday from 12.30-1.30 EST, we have an online chat about social media and emergency management using the #smemchat tag on Twitter. This is a a safe place to air opinions and have a lively debate. To participate, you need a twitter account and the easiest way is to use your twitter account to log into TweetChat.com and enter #smemchat as the tag. If you want to watch but not participate, just do a Twitter #smemchat search on Fridays at lunchtime!