Using Social Media in Disaster Planning and Response
Users have recognized the value of social media as a vital, reliable, and trustworthy business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) channel. Social media is thus becoming a “must have” in a smart organization’s emergency communications toolbox.
Case in point: Belmar, New Jersey, a small, popular seaside community on the Atlantic Ocean, located approximately 60 miles south of New York City.
Social media has become a popular and effective enterprise communications channel, serving as a global virtual public space and providing a forum for individuals and organizations to broadcast their messages.
But only recently have users recognized the value of social media as a vital, reliable and trustworthy business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) channel. Social media, then, is no longer a “nice to have”, but is instead becoming a “must have” in a smart organization’s emergency communications toolbox.
Case in point: Belmar, New Jersey, a small, popular seaside community on the Atlantic Ocean, located approximately miles south of New York City. Belmar’s population swells from approximately year-round residents to tens of thousands of visitors during the summer months.
The Belmar borough government began using social media in April, 2009, to connect with residents and visitors. Belmar signed up for a Twitter account and posted a blog on its Web site. The borough used the same social media to alert residents before and after Hurricane Irene struck the area, on August , 2011. Belmar staff blogged and tweeted that a Code Red emergency voice message alert had been issued, on where to find Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance, and that Monmouth County was offering food aid. In the process, Belmar staff learned that social media could be an effective disaster communications channel.
“We were scratching the surface of what we could do in communicating to residents with social media. Social media was an emerging technology that we were learning at the time. But we learned that it was effective and that we needed more of it,” says Belmar Borough Administrator Colleen Connolly.
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