FEMA has pioneered the idea of planning for the whole community. While many would say that we always have planned for everyone, those plans were usually divided into "vulnerable populations" plans and "regular folks" plans. The spirit of Whole Community planning asks us not to separate the two, but instead to develop plans that take everyone into account comprehensively.
One of the core principles of Whole Community planning is to take what exists in the community and strengthen that.
Much like we wouldn't take it upon ourselves to build our own "disaster" roads, we should work to improve that infrastructure that already exists. This is important for two reasons. First, it helps with resilience, which is something of a buzzword these days. Second, utilizing existing infrastructure provides us with a built in audience. Instead of having to teach people to use the special disaster roads, they can use the roads they know and are comfortable with.
We've generally taken this tack with regards to messaging. Instead of building our own, rarely used, "disaster" media, we rely on the existing media to push out messaging.
What we've noticed lately, though, is a lack of trust in that mass media. They're that green line way down the bottom.
And this lack of trust, I would argue, has real consequences. You can see the cliff that newspaper revenues have fallen off here, and there are those out there that think television revenues are going to do the same.
The problem, though, is that these declines don't mean that people have stopped looking for information and news. They've just shifted it. To social media. And this ain't just, "what I had for lunch," it is health information seeking, Jasmine Revolution fomenting, grandchildren picture sharing, restaurant review looking up and breaking news updates.
Read lines on social media stats
Because people have become so comfortable with using social media, the Red Cross has shown that people tend to rely on it in emergencies, too.
While research has shown that minority populations have less access to desktop computers and broadband Internet access, we have mistakenly interpreted this to mean they don't get online, and thus don't utilize social networks. The Pew Internet project's Digital Differences survey in 2011, shows us how wrong we are.
Ethnic minorities utilize social media more than ethnic whites, especially on networks like Twitter and YouTube.
Statistics and academics aside, what about real life. Who specifically uses social media to get at vulnerable populations?
You might remember this little pandemic that we had a couple of years ago. I've argued in the past that H1N1 was the first time that public health utilized social media widely, especially by the CDC. I was most impressed by their use of social video, though. From plain language talking head descriptions of the virus to posting all of their press conferences, they did everything they could to be transparent. But the best was how, in the opening days of the pandemic, they made a video on how to properly use N95 masks.
Sometimes we forget that social media networks are a worldwide phenomenon. For that to truly be, it has to support multiple languages. The only question is, why don't we take advantage of that? CDC has a Facebook Page that caters solely to Spanish-speakers. The 311 group in Philadelphia tweets bilingually. The ability is there. The technology is there. The need is there. The audience is there. What's missing?
During the Bastrop, TX wildfire last year, the United Way's 211 system was overwhelmed by folks who depend on social services calling with questions related to the fire. Where can I get assistance? If I evacuate, how will the state find me? Can I stay with friends, or do I have to go to a shelter? Is my neighborhood next? Instead of answering each question individually, over and over again, they posted approved messages and facts on Facebook and Twitter so their clients could see the latest information in real-time.
Now you're thinking, that's great, Jim, but I need more. How do we get started, and how have other agencies and folks succeeded along the way? I believe that social media has an insanely low threshold for use. Aside from IT support (or an understanding of the social network application ecosystem), you don't really need approval to just listen. If you want to start, start listening/monitoring to your community. Once comfortable, you can start messaging. When your messaging-fu is good enough, you have to start interacting/engaging. Black belts in social media are comfortable with allowing the public to take over. Finally, I've noticed in the last few months a new trend toward using social media for storytelling, so I wanted to be sure to mention that.
Monitoring: tell story of printer bombs and Philly
Engagement: tell story of Annie and her stolen car
Community Participation: tell story of JoplinTornadoInfo
Storytelling: tell story of real-time support in Aurora after the theater shooting
And that's the presentation. First of all, thank you to SOPHE for allowing me to speak with you. I think we have a couple of minutes for questions, but if we don't get to yours, or you think of something later, look me up online, and I'll be happy to help!
Reaching Everyone in an Emergency: vulnerable populations messaging in the 21st century
Reaching Everyonein an Emergency: vulnerable populations messaging in the 21st century James Garrow Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Whole Community Core Principle #3 Strengthen what works well in communities on a daily basis
• 56% of Americans have a profile on a social media network• 22% of Americans use social networking sites "several" times per day• Facebook recorded more than 155 million unique visitors from the US last month• The average Facebook user spends more than 400 minutes per month on the site• Twitter users post more than 175 million tweets per day• More than 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute
• About 24% of the general public would use social media to notify friends and family that they are safe during a disaster situation• 80% of the general public believe national emergency response organizations should monitor social media sites routinely to prepare for prompt responses• Among online survey respondents, 39% said they expect first responders to arrive less than an hour after pleas for help are posted online
cellphones, compared to 87% of whites• Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites, by a statistically significant margin, to do all of the following things on their cell phones
Sounds great, but has anybody actually doneanything like that before?