I"m laying down some suggested structure and procedures to ensure CanVOST can be a solid resource for emergency managers across the country. I welcome comments and suggestions.
We have had the luxury of being observers in Canada so far in terms of large-scale events and emergencies and the use of social media. Our neighbours to the South and colleagues around the world have had a much more "hands on" experience in implementing social media listening as part of their emergency management programs.
This article is based on discussions I have had with VOST leaders and my own observations. It's meant to spur the establishment of CanVOST as an operational team. Here are the highlights of my proposal to achieve that goal:
Mission: basic social media listening on behalf of requesting agency/organization ... behind the scene, in a supportive role, no taking over "official account" or engaging on behalf of agencies ... Yet .... (this could change over time ... the five components of a social media listening program should be:
- validating uptake on emergency info messaging distributed by requesting agency/organization
- identifying false rumours and misinformation that could jeopardize public safety
- routing calls for assistance on social networks through to proper channels
- detecting threats to the reputation of the requesting agency/organization that could inhibit its ability to fulfil its mandate to respond to the emergency
- relay all information that could enhance situational awareness
Recruiting: CanVOST will be open to anyone but should focus on individuals already in the emergency management, BCP, first responders or municipal fields. Although unaffiliated digital volunteers have much to bring to the table and will be welcome.
Training and ccreditation: all members should have a basic IMS introduction course (such as EMO's IMS-100 online course). FEMA's IMS-142 course on social media and emergency management. All team members shoujld complete these two courses (although experienced professionals wouldn't have to take the intro to IMS course ...determined on a case by case basis) ... However, I'd suggest that team leads (more below) would have to have higher IMS qualifications (IMS 200 and above ...) All members would have to pass a CPIC check.Training on social media listening skills and capabilities would be offered online through webinars.
Monitoring tools: based on individual preferences but basic requirements would be identified: monitoring ability, search capabilities, geo-coded search capabilities, etc. There is a possibilty that CanVOST could be a test bed for a leading Canadian monitoring and mapping software ... more to come on that ...All tools would be free and readily accessible to members ....
Output/Reporting back: different methods could be implemented to report back to the requesting agency/organization on our social media listening activities: Google Docs, Wiki pages, crowdmap/crisis mapping, database applications ... the more basic and user friendly the better for common understanding and sustainability.
Operations: all activations would have a team set up of a minimum of three members and a team lead: Functions would include:
- establishing and updating search/listening parameters
- monitoring/listening to the social network streams
- collating and analyzing the information for reporting back to requesting agency/organization
- The team lead would act as liaison between the team and the requesting agency/organization/EOC (thus the higher IMS requirements as per above) and would also liaise with any digital volunteer community or groups also involved in the emergency.
Liability: we will have in place a solid legal position on liability for team members BEFORE any activation ... we'll use some of the work already completed by technical volunteer communities in Canada and elsewhere to help us.
Funding: there might be some dollars available to help develop CanVOST as a truly national team and to support recruiting, training and logistics requirements. More to come on that eventually .... I hope !
Marketing/Partnerships: my hope is to sell the CanVOST as a national resources to members of SOREM (Senior Officials Responsible for Emergency Management), the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and others. We hope to establish strong partnerships with IAEM-Canada, the tri-services chiefs (fire, EMS, police), key NGOs (Red Cross in particular) and othes. The key here is outreach and offering a valuable volunteer service in times of crisis to municipalities and organizations that don't have the capability to monitor social media on their own.
Please let's get this thing going and I welcome your comments and suggestions!