The first thing I’d like to do today is introductions. I’ve always found that classes like this, while valuable for what’s being taught, are much more valuable for the relationships that they build. I know more about the PIOs in my region from coming to classes that I could have taught than from anything else. It sounds like a terribly old trope, but it’s true: you shouldn’t be trading business cards in the middle of a disaster. So I wanted to take some time this morning and do introductions; real introductions. I’ll start and we’ll go around the room. But when it’s your turn, I don’t want only your name, rank and serial number. I want to know about your experience and understanding of social media. First, my story. Name, job, old job, how I got started blogging, why I went public, how the department started using social media, how we use it now. Now, remember, I want this class to be a conversation. I’m pretty good at talking, but there’s no way I can do it all day long. I encourage interruptions, questions, comments from the peanut gallery. If something doesn’t make sense, say so. If you want to know more, ask. I’ll tell you what I know and if don’t know, we’ll look it up.
Remember: name, job, what’s your area of expertise. Also, talk about social media: do you use it, personally AND professionally; what networks do you use; what’s the best part of social media; what’s the worst part of social media; do your family and friends use it; if you don’t use it, why?
Now, there are two ways to talk about a subject. With facts and numbers and with stories. I like to do both because neither way works for everyone. I’m swung very easily by stories, emotions and anecdotes, but some folks prefer the cold, hard facts. Because it’s my class, I’ll start off with the boring stats and then we’ll get into the fun stories later. Social media statistics are a funny thing. We have some, but they’re not very good. They’re usually pulled from the private sector and public relations and don’t exactly relate the government and public use situations. Furthermore, even those statistics aren’t perfect because social media is SUCH a new thing, nobody’s really figured out WHAT to count. A perfect example is how many people use social media. We can use subscriber counts given by the social networks, but those might be skewed as the networks try to overstate how many people use their service in the hope of getting more money.
First let’s start at the beginning. People get online. LOTS of people get online. I’ve highlighted some of the best demonstrations of that: nearly 80% of Americans get online; more than two-thirds of each of the three major racial/ethnic groups get online; three-quarters or more of each age group under 65 gets online; more than 80% of each income group over $30,000/year gets online; nearly three-quarters of every education group besides those with no high school diploma gets online. In fact, statistically, the only folks that don’t get online are the uneducated and very old. Remember though, these stats are from January, 2011. Who here thinks the percentages on ALL of these demographics has gone up?
When looking at what those internet users do online, right around two-thirds of EACH demographic, except folks over 65, uses social networking sites. And that age group is the quickest adopter of social media.
But really, the most telling stat is this one, I think. If there’s one stat in the world that demonstrates how much people have integrated social media into their lives, it’s this one.
In fact, the research has gotten so good, that we can now tell who is a typical user of a social network. This is great for us, because so many people come up to me and ask, “Jim, which social network should we be on?” And I’d give that great public health answer, “Well, it depends.” We’d then talk about which demographic they were looking to reach and we could craft a plan from it. And between me and you, almost all of my recommendations matched up with what Pew found. <brush shoulder off>
This is brand new data from Pew that shows that every social network that they’re tracking saw increased use, some of it pretty significant percentage-wise, in just ONE YEAR. The thing that surprises me is the generalization of this data. Right now, one out of five people are on some social network. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Jim, only twenty percent of people are on there, because those nerds are on all five of these ones you’ve got here.” Turns out that’s not exactly true.
A full three-quarters of users are on two or fewer networks. That means that those 20 percent of people on Pinterest are a real twenty percent.
And when we look at how often people check their social networks. Well, let’s just say that I check social media about a hundred times a day. But I’m unusual. What about you? How often are you on Facebook?
And none of that even touches on the absolute rocketship firework that is causing massive change in how Americans get on the internet and what they do there. That’s right, how. As in this thing (show phone). Mobile penetration has grown spectacularly over just the last two years while the percentage of people who don’t have access to internet and apps on their phones has steadily dropped.
To me, there are really two huge things to point out here. First, that only folks over 55 have less than 50% penetration of smartphone ownership. That is a HUGE number of Americans. Second, and to me as an emergency planner looking specifically at vulnerable populations, the fact that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to own smartphones than whites shows me that is a hugely effective way to reach those populations that don’t normally utilize traditional media.
Looking further at the demographics, we see that really the biggest predictors of not having smartphones is poverty and low education. Which are, kinda linked. It’s funny, when we start talking about specific populations that DON’T have a technology, it should be assumed that otherwise the technology is pretty well disseminated throughout the rest of the general population, but we tend not to think of smartphones as being that way.
But if you want to ask me what’s REALLY interesting about smartphones, it’s what people do with them. Drawing again on a Pew report from 2012, we see huge numbers of cell phone users doing very sophisticated things with their phones (remember, cell phone owners not smartphones owners are nearly 90% of the American public).
And the growth of these things has been amazing. (Read the highlighted ones, note doubling)
Now, if you ask me, this might be the most important slide I’m going to present to you today. This is a demographic breakdown of people who use their cell phone to access the internet. We often hear about the digital divide, and how poor and racial and ethnic minorities don’t own computers or have broadband and are thus missing out on the internet. How we shouldn’t focus time on internet communications because we’re missing some of the most vulnerable. This chart shows that’s not really the case. The digital divide is disappearing. They’ve got internet, it’s just in their pockets and purses. (Look at pointed out stats)
Now you’ve got the lay of the land.So what does that mean for us in disaster response? According to a study done by the American Red Cross in 2012, more than half of Americans looked for information on a disaster online. And most interesting to me is the bottom two rows: the second-to-last is Government websites, clocking in at 20%, while the bottom one is social media, clocking in at 19%. So, let me rhetorically ask you, why are we so gung-ho about posting stuff on our websites, but not on social media?
Some more information from the Red Cross survey, read slide, focus on 12 percent of Americans, not Americans who’ve been through a disaster. That’s nearly 35 million people!!! Also, note that 77% number. How many of you checked on friends after the West explosion?
What do you think about these stats? Does anything stick out to you? Do these stats jive with your experience? (Ask specifically about the mobile stats, sex stats and Red Cross stats)
Now we’re going to walk through some of the tools. Some of this might be a review, but if you need me to go into more detail or have a question, let’s get into it. Go to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Vine, Tumblr, blogs, Snapchat.
Now that we’ve talked about how
Well, the first step is monitoring. You can’t really know how to succeed in using socialmedia if you’ve never actually seen it in use. So start an account. Today. A personal one, notan agency one, just something to play around with. Make a Facebook account for your dog.Follow your favorite baseball team on Twitter. Organize recipes on Pinterest. Look for whattypes of posts succeed. Look for how often really successful people post. Save insightfularticles. Keep an eye out for pitfalls to avoid. Become an expert.
First off, information responders provide to the public. This is an important one, because this isn’t a big change. Every emergency manager out there will tell you that “getting the word out” is an important part of responding. It’s just that social media has turned that idea on it’s head. I have five examples of the new world of information dissemination.
FDNY’s standard protocol for emergency requests sent via social media is to redirect them to call 911. And that’s how her night started off. People wrote to @FDNY on Twitter asking for help with evacuation or whatever. She rebuffed them, as is required due to department policy. Now, I’m not saying this course of action is wrong; it’s the only way public safety agencies can handle what would most assuredly be a flood of requests. There’s no easy way to translate tweets into the 911 system, it wasn’t designed that way.But then one person tweeted her asking for help. She directed them to 911, and he replied that he couldn’t call because the power was out and cell networks were overloaded. He was in a flooding house and Twitter was his only means of communication, the only way he could ask for help. Emily found a supervisor and they figured out a protocol that formally redirected people to 911, but if they couldn’t do that, had her figuring out which borough dispatcher was the right one and placing an internal call to them to request help.We’ll never know if Emily’s quick thinking and flexibility saved lives, but frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Social media was an useful as any dispatch system.
And then, Boston. Many, many of us lived the events there through social media.How many of you checked on someone who you knew was in Boston? How many used social media to do it? Messaged them on Facebook?How many of you watched the explosions on YouTube? Or supplemented your media coverage by checking social media? How many of you expressed solidarity, hope, prayers or sadness online?
Boston PD, that first day, found social media to be SUCH a powerful force, this is the radio call they made while the bomb squad searched the hundreds of bags left all around the finish line.
This tweet was sent mere minutes after the arrest of the second suspect in the Boston bombings. Approved on-site by tweeting Deputy Commissioner John Daley it demonstrates how quickly information moves these days.
This is Calgary, Edmonton. Under water. It didn’t make the US news too much this year, but they had flooding earlier this summer that swamped their downtown. The floods also swamped their communications channels. The city’s website was under such a stress from the public looking for information, it crashed. So they turned to Twitter to disseminate official information. And when the police department’s account got thrown into “twitter jail” they used a local constable’s account. Calgary continued to message and disseminate information throughout the disaster come hell or high water.
Social media isn’t only useful for massive, huge, world-changing disasters, y’know. A couple of weeks ago, my hometown made the national news due to a botched demolition that fell into an active Salvation Army store. Six people ended up dying, with more than a dozen others getting transported to hospitals. The fire department, being the coordinators of PA Task Force 1, the local Urban Search and Rescue team, was incident commander. Police maintained the scene. Emergency management and Red Cross supported the responders and response. The Health Department was not, and should not, have been called in. Because things were so busy for those other agencies, the social media aspect of the response ended up not happening, despite massive media interest and posting on social media networks, especially Twitter. I got the call from our Commissioner’s Office to start retweeting the response agencies posts and sharing information updates as they were approved for release. Not as part of a JIC, but just as a way to broaden the scope of the City’s public information releases. The problem was that I was returning from a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina and was watching what was going on on CNN in the airport bar! So I pulled out my trusty iphone, connected to a power source and went to work. We retweeted every response agency’s tweet. We looked for elucidating information and diagrams. We gave updates on public transit changes. We communicated the boundaries of the response and asked folks to stay away to the responders could do their work. At one point, our account name was the second-highest trending term on Twitter in Philadelphia. We became the single, best source for official information release from a City agency. Not because we were specially placed in a JIC or because we were privy to inside information. It’s because I had a few hours to kill in an airport bar and a phone. That’s the power of social media today in emergencies.
My final example comes from Washington State, site of the I-5 Bridge Collapse on the Skagit River. A good friend of mine, Marcus Deyerin was the assigned PIO for the response and because cell service was so overwhelmed in the area, he resorted to pushing information via the data connection on his phone through Twitter. When data was overwhelmed, he submitted the messages to Twitter via text message.
We, as responders are also learning that we’re not the only ones with information about disasters. The public is generally there and they’ve got social media to spread the word.
One only has to see images like this.
Poorly composed, terribly lit, completely without context or expertise.
How can emergency managers look at these images and not see that this is ground-truth. This is the intelligence every IC begs for in a disaster. With geo-location, we can see exactly what’s happening, exactly where it’s happening, and in many cases, exactly AS it’s happening. All we have to do is accept that the public can be our media and give us information.
My best example of how partnerships and friendships on social media has helped me in emergencies is this case. Who remembers this one? It’s a good one. That’s right, it’s the quarantine of Delta Flight 3163. The story starts at Midway Airport in Chicago where domestic flight 3163 landed carrying passengers who had transferred from an international flight originating somewhere in Africa. One of those passengers started exhibiting a rash, someone said monkeypox, and before you knew it, the plane was quarantined away from the terminal, surrounded by CDC and police.I found out about the quarantined plane on Twitter. I got a message from a friend, a former fire chief in Arizona, who knew I was interested in this kind of stuff. He’d heard about it from a news producer in New York City who knew he liked emergency stuff. As soon as I heard about it, I messaged a risk communication expert I knew in the Seattle area. All personal relationships built over time with trust and reciprocal help.The reason this example is about relationships and not about social media monitoring is that monitoring isn’t perfect. The day before this event, Lady Gaga had posted something on Twitter about how she had quarantined herself to work on a new album. The search term was useless at that point, given all of her fans retweeting that message. I only found out about it because of the network I had built and maintain until this day. It never would’ve existed if I hadn’t reached out and made friends with these folks.
And the social media aspects of Sandy didn’t stop with the response. The recovery was studded with social media. In some cases, like that green/yellow/red picture there where the public was asked to crowd-source damage assessments to help FEMA focus on the areas where they were needed the most. And in other cases where the public took matters into their own hands via social media to help with recovery. Groups like Occupy Sandy provided troops to check on trapped folks until the Red Cross and National Guard could get there. Blogs like Sandy Sucks acted as clearinghouses for information on recovery needs and opportunities. And even non-affiliated folks did something, like getting the wifi up at a Starbucks, or hooking up a series of power strips so folks could re-charge their phones. All of this was almost always organized by social media.
But the big test of VOST came last summer, when a wildland fire started up by Shadow Lake, on Mount Washington, in Oregon. While the fire was of little danger of affecting the public, it rapidly grew out of control. The federal Incident Management Team’s PIO wanted to keep an eye on social media, so she activated the nascent VOST to support the official response. 15 emergency managers from around the world conducted targeted searches and monitoring around the Shadow Lake wildland fire and reported back to the PIO on what the internet was saying, providing situational awareness to the Incident Commander.
At one point, the VOST found a tiny little blog had posted a blog post on the ORFire teams using a tiny little bridge to get to an area to stage resources. The blogger snapped some photos of the trucks, and complained that, while the truckers were placing themselves in danger from using this historical, rickety bridge, they risked damaging a key thoroughfare that the local used. In hours, the VOST identified the blogger, and connected them with the IMT PIO, who coordinated with the Operations and Planning Sections to ensure that no more trucks used that bridge. While this situation may have stopped at this tiny, completely unheard of blog, the complaints may very well have gone viral and generated significant public outcry directed at the response for their tone-deafness and heavy-handed approach. Being forced to deal with this outcry would have undoubtedly taken the IC and PIO away from their primary goal, fighting the fire.
One and a half hour of message crafting
One and a half hour of message crafting
One and forty-five minutes of message crafting
Privacy is an especially important part of this exercise because now we can write whatever we want and no one will be the wiser. Using real, live social media accounts for exercises is dangerous because they can be misinterpreted (even if they say EXERCISE in real big letters). A classic example is from the Boston Marathon bombings, when a county in New Jersey just happened to be doing a bomb squad exercise that day, and used social media as part of their training. For a crazy half hour, they were bombarded by calls from local media about the connection to Boston. Today, we’ll be avoiding all of that. If anyone is interested in how to set this up for your own exercise, we can walk through it at the end of the day. There are tools out there, specifically LiveFyre that will simulate a real social media exercise with incoming and outgoing messages. But, it costs.
And that’s the day! Any last minute questions or thoughts or comments?
Thank you all, and thank you to Maryland EMA for hosting us. If you have any questions or would like some follow up, please don’t hesitate to find me online at this address.
Social Media for Health PIOs
for Health PIOs
Philadelphia Department of Public Health
•Area of Expertise
•Do you use it?
•What networks do you use?
•What’s the best part of social media?
•And what’s the worst part?
•Do your family and friends use it? For what?
•If you don’t use it, why?
Between six and eleven percent of Americans
would interrupt sex to check social media
Information Seeking in a Disaster
can Red Cross
Red Cross Survey
• 12% of the American public has used
social media in a disaster
• After seeing emergency info on a social
media site, 77% have checked on their
family and friends
• Nearly 40% would use social media to let
loved ones know they were safe after a
"One of those trucks went across the bridge!" she told me.
"Wow. Even the school bus doesn't cross that bridge. It's not designed for large trucks.
When we saw them going up that road, we wanted to run out and
wave our hands, yelling wrong way, wrong way!“
•Get into groups
•Log into Twitter and Facebook
•Developed just for this exercise
•Private account, no one can follow or see
what we tweet
•My personal account!
•Unpublished Page, no one can Like or see
what we post