Start Spreading the News About NYC’s Success in Using Social Media for Emergency Management

Let’s face it, there are a lot that went wrong during Superstorm Sandy, but let’s highlight something that went incredibly right: the use of social media to deliver real-time information to those affected by the storm.

A sample of this can be seen on the Twitter feed of the New York City Fire Department (@FDNY ). Not only was the FDNY actively monitoring, responding to and updating its own feed, the organization was retweeting and providing information from key local, federal and state agencies, as well.

From providing information and tips prior to the storm’s arrival:

To delivering information during the storm:

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To offering safety tips:

And power updates, as well as who to call to report outages and downed trees:

On where to get reliable information:

To post-event assistance, relief efforts and volunteer information:

This is just a small sampling of the effective use of social media to deliver real-time updates and information to the public before, during and after a major event – in this case, Hurricane Sandy. There are a number of best practices that can be gleaned from this, and that will hopefully be adopted by an increasing number of local, state and government agencies as time goes on.

The same use case applies to first responders, utility companies and other related organizations which must all work together and maintain communication with the public and/or customers, sometimes before, but always during and after a major event – whether that’s a natural disaster, a time of crisis, a major crime such as the Aurora shootings, or another event that impacts a community, county, state, nation or the world.

Social media is becoming an increasingly important information, communication and response channel, and one that sometimes becomes the only channel available in an emergency when the power goes out or phone lines are too busy. Congratulations to New York City for serving as an excellent example of how social media can be used for emergency management and crisis communication. Here’s to the possibilities for all agencies and organizations.

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