Friday, May 07, 2010

Emergency management with Gov 2.0

The internet has proven itself time and time again to be one of the fastest platforms of disseminating information during emergencies.

The latest example has been in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

One of the largest spills off the US coast in history (though far from being the largest in the world), the spill is now threatening the marine life and economic survival of sea-based industries in four US states.

To inform people about the unfolding emergency and share news as it happens, a group of companies involved with the spill and US government agencies has been operating a website and social media presence.

According to the article Oil Spill Social Media in Read Write Web, the group includes British Petroleum, who own the oil; Transocean, who own the rig; the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The social media presence includes a Facebook page for conversations, Twitter for announcements, Flickr for images and YouTube for videos - all linked off the main site, Deep Water Horizon Response.

This type of presence can be put together very quickly when an emergency occurs. There is no cost to any of the social media tools, and they can be in place within minutes.

The approach works very well at informing the public in a more reliable and factual way than, sometimes, traditional media allows.

Provided organisations are attuned and prepared to provide information rapidly, without onerous approval processes, second guessing or political concerns, social media can be a very powerful emergency management tool in the public sector's arsenal.

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