On August 6, 2006, a small earthquake struck the San Francisco area. The event triggered a discussion instantly in a new tool called “Twitter.” In that defining social media moment, two-way communications inspired the public not only to communicate status in real time but also to be active in their own preparedness and recovery planning.

Humanity Road is a volunteer-based public charity that harnesses the power of the internet and mobile-based technologies to close the communications gap when natural disasters strike. Founded in 2010, the organizatoion delivers disaster preparedness and response information to the global mobile public before, during, and after a disaster. As a leader in the field of online disaster response, Humanity Road has now published a has now published a “Guide to Social Media and Emergency Management Exercise Planning.”

This guide outlines types of traditional exercises and how social media elements can be incorporated into an emergency management exercise program. The guide includes exercise elements and how they can be successfully built into traditional programs.

In just a few short years, emergency management agencies jumped many hurdles to start their social media monitoring, practice and engagement. Craig Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) championed the cause by encouraging government agencies to empower the agency’s presence in social media.

“People respond to emergencies the way that they have trained. This puts the onus on governments and organizations to implement their social media policies and procedures and exercise their plans before an emergency occurs,” says Allyson Kuriger, Humanity Road Emergency Management Team Lead. “Participating in exercises provides staff and volunteers the opportunity to validate and make corrective actions or improvements to their emergency operations plans, and to identify any staffing or training deficiencies.”

Numerous emerging tools and community partners can assist in creating effective social media elements or  disaster  exercises.   Utilizing  key  stakeholders  during  exercise  development  and including  the  public, especially  those  with  special  needs,  is  a whole  community  approach that can empower  the public  to  help  themselves and  others  during  disasters. Exercise  planners  should research options and include whole community partners from the outset.

Download the PDF for this report here Guide to Social Media and Emergency Management Exercise Planning.

Reposted with permission from Humanity Road.

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