The use of social media to inform communities about emergencies has taken local public information officers by storm. Recent events have outlined social media’s popularity as survivors of Haiti’s earthquake turned to Twitter and other networks to update their statuses and verify the well-being of loved ones. Its popularity with citizens worldwide has led to a bevy of questions regarding use and best practices.
About 130 public and private information officers from the emergency management, first response and business continuity communities gathered on Jan. 21 at the Midwest Disasters 2.0: Social Media and Emergency Response training session. The session’s goal was to assemble Kansas City, Kan.-area emergency communicators to learn how social media systems work and how they can be used during a disaster.
The examples of social media’s use during disasters — like the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and the Mumbai attacks in 2008 — spurred the creation of the event, said Adam Crowe, assistant director of the Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security office. “There seemed to be a growing use of it, and then a lot of people in my area of Kansas City were clamoring to learn more,” he said. “And unfortunately the only trainings that were popping