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We Must Be Faster

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Last week, I participated in a conference call meeting of a social media planning group for the Department of Homeland Security.  I have been a humble member of this dedicated group for over a year, and am always impressed with the insights and knowledge of these emergency management professionals.  As part of this team, I have the unique opportunity to hear what folks are doing in integrating social media into emergency management and response activities.  I say without shame that I steal their stuff every chance I get.

For the past year, we have been working on a Wiki document for DHS meant to encapsulate our collective knowledge to guide those who have yet to “drink the Kool-Aid” of SM for emergency response.

We are too slow.

Now, I’m not dissing my team.  In fact, I’m fessin’ up that I’m a big part of the problem.  Over the past several months, we have been reading, editing, opining and speculating on what we need to do.   But today, as I tried to think of a blog topic the irony hit me upside the head like a baseball bat.

We are too freakin’ slow.

In a guest blog article I wrote for Emergency Management Magazine in January, I challenged the Feds to get off the dime and give us some guidance and acceptance on how NIMS/ICS should integrate SM into incident management.   Our group had already been working on the framework document to guide education efforts and SM implementation. Now, I think we might have our own dime wedged somewhere.

To be fair, all of us have day jobs, volunteering extra time towards this effort.  There are a few DHS contractors overseeing the effort, providing sage advice and expertise.  I sensed the urgency in their voices, as they now push us to wrap up the first part of the project.  That, and the buzz generated by Google’s beta deployment of G+, helped me realize that we don’t have the luxury of time.  We don’t need to be perfect.

Yet, yesterday we spent a bunch of time talking about document structure and how to describe Twitter , hashtags, friends, and contacts.  I was one of the worst offenders, suggesting lots of last minute changes to a supposedly final draft.  After I hung up, I felt pretty good about my contribution.  But, after just 24 hours I feel that if we don’t get our work out soon our intended audience will likely be our unintended teachers.  But, wait…isn’t that the best thing about social media anyway?

P.S. We should have our first product finalized in a week or so.  I promise my fellow team members I’ll keep my mouth shut at the next meeting!  

Comments - Add Yours

  • http://twitter.com/patricecloutier Patrice Cloutier

    Well, Bill you hit right on the head again, as usual. It’s simple, we move at the speed of our audiences or we are irrelevant. What EM organization wants to be irrelevant. The danger is that when all hell breaks loose and senior officials realize they must use social networks to reach out to people but also gather valuable info … if they’re not prepared to do it right and do it quick … it’ll be much too little too late …

    Key is to convince, lead, prod along and show good practice and ROI from people who already do it successfully. Unfortunately, with the latest series of disasters in the last 12 months, that knowledge base is growing ….

About chiefb2

Retired fire chief,Type 3 AHIMT IC, PIO. Current industrial services safety professional, social media emergency management disciple (no, I'm not a "guru"). Crisis communications consultant. Dad with an open wallet.