Using #SMEM Lessons Learned for Public Diplomacy

What do natural disasters and social media swarm-fueled diplomatic disasters, such as the recent anti-Islam film riots, have in common? One hundred percent certainty that they will occur regularly, albeit unpredictably. Now that one third of the world's population has Internet access and 79 percent of people in the developing world have a mobile phone (more than the percentage with access to electricity), anything anybody writes on social media, no matter how … [Read more...]

Q&As on Using Social Media to Get Rid of Narco Gangs

What do public officials and narco gangs have in common? Usually nothing. But in Mexico, both have rallied against citizens' attempts to use social media to warn others about cartel checkpoints, shootouts, grenade attacks, and other public safety concerns. Narco gangs see social media as a threat to their hold on power, while public officials complain the new technologies spread rumors. In fact, several Mexican states are considering laws criminalizing the sowing … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Booker, Social Media & Irene

A tweet about diapers caught my eye during my frantic Twitter searches last weekend to find information on Hurricane Irene's impact on Long Beach Island. It read "If u have problems finding diapers please DM me your # so we can talk. @darkangel1321" and was from the "verified" account of Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (@CoryBooker on Twitter). I took a couple of seconds to read the mayor's Twitter stream and found he was doing more than help moms find diapers. … [Read more...]

Are Municipal Entities Getting Social Media Message?

Are municipal entities around the country getting the message that social media plays an important role in communications during and after natural disasters? My personal experience trying to get information about Long Beach Island (LBI) following Hurricane Irene where my in laws have a cottage makes me wonder. Only one island municipal entity, the Harvey Cedars Police Department, is on Twitter. None, except the Borough of Harvey Cedars, appear to be on … [Read more...]

40 Tweet Gems from NEMA’s #SMEM Camp

After participating in the Emergency Social Data Summit remotely last summer (see my 30 Tweet Gems from Emergency Social Data Summit wrap-up post, I was thrilled to learn the public was invited to attend the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Social Media in Emergency Management (SMEM) Camp yesterday in Alexandria, Va. I signed up as soon as I cleared the date. Why? Of all the ways social media can make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary … [Read more...]

7 Ways to Be a Good Twitter Citizen During a Crisis

In the wake of Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster, a handful of pranksters elected to play on fears and launch hoax tweets, fooling thousands if not millions. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of the Pokemon, become a Trending Topic yesterday on Twitter after Twitter user @xCyrusAndLovato tweeted "The creator of Pokemon died today in the #tsunami, #Japan. RIP: Satoshi Tajiri. #prayforjapan." It turned out to be one of many online rumors, some more harmless than … [Read more...]

Using Social Media for Emergency Response

You've got to check out this fascinating video of Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), explaining why his agency plans to engage the public more in disaster response via mobile phones and social media. "A government-centric abroad to solving disaster problems will fail in a catastrophic disaster," he says. "It is a brittle system that does not have the resiliency that we have when we can incorporate the rest of the team: … [Read more...]

Mexican President Tweets Category 4 Hurricane Alert

In a sign of the (social media) times, Mexican President Felipe Calderon used Twitter this morning to warn his people that Hurricane Karl could hit Mexico as a Category 4. By mid-afternoon, his tweet had been quoted or mentioned in newspapers and radio and television stories around the world. "An alert for Hurricane Karl in the nation's central states," President Calderon's tweet said in Spanish. "[It] could convert to a Category 4. It will enter through Veracruz … [Read more...]

30 Tweet Gems from Emergency Social Data Summit

You might remember one of the good news stories to come out of January's Haiti earthquake. A Canadian woman trapped in rubble sent a text message to Canadian foreign ministry officials thousands of kilometers away. The message was relayed back to Canadian authorities in Haiti who were able to find and rescue her. With people increasingly using text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and other new media tools to seek help in a disaster, the American Red Cross sponsored … [Read more...]