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Social Media + Emergency Management: Talking with Tech Leaders on the West Coast

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Yesterday I had a very productive day in California talking about social media, technology, emergency management, and ways to assist the public in getting prepared, by using the tools they use on a daily basis. Check out this short video to see who I met with:



In addition to meeting with fellow “Craig”, Craig Newmark (the founder of Craigslist), I also met with editors from Wired Magazine, Twitter, Apple and Facebook.

Some of the things we discussed included:

  • The need to provide information to the public as data feeds, because they are a key member of our emergency management team;
  • The importance of referring to people impacted by a disaster as survivors and utilizing them as a resource; 
  • The importance of providing good customer service; and 
  • How we, as emergency managers, need to stop trying to have the public fit into our way of doing things and receiving information, but that we should fit the way the public gets, receives and seeks out information.

There are a lot of discussions and conversations taking place about social media, text messaging, etc, and how these tools can be used before, during, and after a disaster. 

There’s no question that these tools have already changed the field of emergency management – and will continue to. As emergency managers, we will have to be flexible and agile and quickly adapt as new technologies and communications tools emerge. What’s exciting is that these new tools, if we embrace them and leverage them effectively, will continue to help us better serve our customers – the public.

As the conversation continues, and as you use these tools on a daily basis, there are things that you can today do to prepare yourself, your family members, and your colleagues at work. 

Communicating during or after an emergency
How are you communicating with each other if a disaster or emergency occurs?  Are you going to call each other, send an email, text message, or update each other via a social network site? The disaster or emergency could be something like a blackout in your city or a school closure; all disasters aren’t large earthquakes or hurricanes.

Receiving updates on your phone
How are you receiving updates from local officials? Have you signed up for text message or email alerts?  If you’re on Facebook, did you know that you can signup to receive text message updates from Facebook pages you follow?  If you are a fan of FEMA on Facebook or your local emergency management agency, you can receive our update as a text message right on your phone (and just like with any text message, standard rates apply).

Leverage Twitter without creating an account
And here’s another small tip: if you are thinking about using Twitter, did you know you can receive text messages updates from someone you’re following without having to create an account?  For example, if you wanted to receive our updates as a text message to your phone, just text FOLLOW FEMA to 40404 (this is Twitter’s text message number and of course, standard text message rates apply --- the lawyers require me to repeat this).  You can do the same for your local emergency management agency.

Our meetings in California generated great discussions and ideas and I’m excited to explore how we can move forward on them. In the meantime, I’d like to hear how you use these and other social network sites to communicate with friends and family before or during an emergency, so we can all utilize these tools to fullest capability, so please leave a comment below, or visit our ongoing challenge at www.challenge.gov/fema and submit your ideas.

- Craig

Administrator Fugate on one year anniversary of Haiti earthquake

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A year ago today, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, destroying infrastructure, homes, businesses, schools, and claiming tens of thousands of lives.  The entire emergency management team responded  (including a number of federal agencies, led by our partners at the U.S. Agency for International Development, other countries, as well as international organizations, volunteer groups, the private sector, and over $1 billion in donations), helping thousands of Haitians meet their immediate needs following the earthquake.  The recovery is ongoing and not yet complete.

Today, as our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the earthquake, we're urging Americans to be prepared for emergencies.  While we won’t be able to prevent natural disasters from happening, we can mitigate their affects by having an emergency kit, making an emergency plan, and being informed of the risks in your area

This video from Administrator Fugate says it best:



What lessons has the Haitian earthquake taught you or your community?

Holiday Message from Administrator Fugate

Posted by: Public Affairs

In this video Administrator Fugate shares a special holiday message on being prepared before a disaster strikes. With New Year's right arond the corner, why not Resolve to be Ready in 2011?

You can start today at Ready.gov with three easy steps: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.  From all of us at FEMA, have a safe and happy holiday!

Expanding the Team

Posted by: Administrator Craig Fugate

Today, President Obama convened the White House Tribal Nations Summit, inviting the leaders of all 565 federally recognized tribes to Washington DC to meet with him and his Administration’s top officials. I was honored to hear the President speak this morning and then to participate in a conversation with tribal leaders from all over the country. 



FEMA is committed to working with American Indians and Alaska Natives and looks to their sovereign leadership for guidance on how we can best support them in building more resilient and better prepared communities.  In order to better support them before, during and after disaster strikes, FEMA is placing a tribal liaison in each of our Regional Offices.  This will allow us to more closely coordinate with tribes, and make sure they have the support they need while responding to and recovering from disasters.

Today’s conference shows how serious this Administration is about building stronger relationships with tribal nations.  Tribal leadership is an essential part of the emergency management team in planning for the whole of community.  We’re grateful to all of those who traveled to Washington today to represent their communities.

- Craig

Welcome to the first-ever FEMA blog

Posted by: Administrator Craig Fugate

At FEMA we have a Facebook page, Twitter page, I tweet and earlier this year we launched our first-ever mobile website, but what we didn’t have was a blog. Well, now that we have one, you’re probably wondering what you can expect.

Plain and simple, this will be another tool we’ll use to communicate and let you know what we’re up to. This won’t be another way to put out our press releases - this is a way to communicate directly with you.

You’ll eventually hear from team members from across our agency, from our regional offices to our field offices, supporting local disaster recovery efforts. We will provide information before, during and after disaster strikes and we will highlight best practices, innovative ideas, and insights that are being used across emergency management and across the country.

So as we get our blog up and running, we’ll also be looking to you for ideas, tips and feedback. If you have a question you’d like us to address, send it our way. If you have a creative idea you’d like us to highlight, let us know. We’re looking to you – the rest of our team – to be our partners in this endeavor. Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation.

- Craig

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