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Preparing for Social Media Alert Shortfalls

Modern technology can be helpful but it shouldn’t become an addiction

With the ongoing rash of extreme weather bludgeoning the country, the need for emergency alerts and warnings is fresh in our minds. As the use of social media tools for this purpose changes, it is important to be aware of their inherent downsides and always have a Plan B at hand.

The following issues were discussed in a Twitter chat by the Social Media for Emergency Management group, published on the AWAREwebsite.

Issue #1:Battery Life is Shorter than the Storm
The full course of a weather emergency and its aftermath can keep the power off for days or even weeks, while the average device has a battery life of a day or two. Encourage citizens to have multiple ways to power or charge a device, such as backup devices and/or batteries, even having local business set up charging stations.

Issue #2:Too Much Rapid Information
While information during and after an event is critical, too much too fast can overwhelm local responders. Listeners shouldn’t rely solely on social media for information, rather they should try conventional methods such as dialing 911, 211 or knowing the direct line to a public safety answer point.

Issue #3:Even Twitter Has a Delay
No technology is perfect and during times of widespread distress, social media platforms such as Twitter can become overloaded, causing delays. Consider tools and programs that can monitor media streams, or even employ a volunteer or two.

The full discussion is available here.