Humanity Road Testimony on #SMEM Subcommittee Hearing

The Subcommittee Hearing: Emergency MGMT 2.0: How #SocialMedia & New Tech are Transforming Preparedness, Response, & Recovery #Disasters #Part2 #Govt/NGOs concluded today with some great testimony.

In the midst of so much dialogue and yes contention these days about government monitoring social networks, a surprising bright spot emerged this summer.  The Subcommittee on Homeland Security and in particular Rep. Susan Brooks did a terrific service for the public and agencies responding by hosting the subcommittee hearings on how social media and new technology are transforming preparedness, response and recovery in disasters.

Humanity Road has been providing social media monitoring surge support for more than 3 years now and as pioneers in this emerging field in the use of social media during disaster, we have seen quite a bit of growth in its use. And so in answer to the many folks who have asked; Yes, I was asked to submit written testimony for the subcommittee hearing for the first session before the Part #2 program was scheduled.  My testimony was submitted into the record on June 4th but does not appear to be available yet online.  So for those who have asked – here it is: HumanityRoad+Testimony+June+4+2013

also wanted to share some follow up observations from today’s testimony;



Mentioned in testimony several times today was the report recently published of the findings of a survey conducted in 2012 by independent research firm CNA in partnership with and funding from the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA).  Here is the link for that survey which contains the most in depth results that I have seen published to date on this topic. There were 7 key findings recorded including issues with staffing, training and funding. Also identified in the report is the need for state and local agencies to incorporate the capability for surge support monitoring for large scale disaster from organizations such as Humanity Road.  Overall the survey indicates some great inroads in readiness with room to improve.


The discussion today included some great dialogue on the need to identify what training is available and whether there are grants that are available for emergency response organizations to take advantage of training.  This was a great question as we have received this inquiry often and I look forward to some clear guidance on where county and local communities and organizations should look online for these grants.


The need to develop concepts to incorporate Virtual Operations Support Teams to build on capacity was included in Mr. Ashwood’s written testimony [PDF] and the use of VOST was mentioned by Rep. Susan Brooks.  The use of specially trained teams of digital volunteers provides a local community with the ability to surge its support in a ‘just in time’ approach.  There are many VOST teams and these groups are growing both inside the United States and abroad. Humanity Road has partnered with several of these teams for large scale disaster including #OKVOST, #NYVOST, #NZVOST and Francophone VOST.  By the way – for those interested; in Twitter; the French equivalent of #smem hashtag is #msgu.


To wrap it up here, it was a delight to hear the great dialogue among participants of both sessions and for those interested to learn more, below are some helpful links.


About Humanity Road
About VOST


FEMA offers IS-42 Social Media in Emergency Management providing a basic roadmap and introduction
NDPTC offers Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery
Humanity Road offers Hands On Workshop Series providing training on Social Media, Crisis Mapping and VOST