4/08/2009

Free Web 2.0 Tools for Emergency Workers

The Journal of Civil Defense, published by The American Civil Defense Association, just published an article I sent them two years ago, Free Web Safety & Emergency Tools. Hightlights follow:

What is not addressed in the current discussion of the new “social media” (Twitter, qik Modulus, and dozens of others) is how useful they can be for preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating emergencies. Here I present four I use that may also be useful to you.

Twitter – www.twitter.com

Twitter is quick way to update others about your current situation. It is a free, social network (known as ‘micro-blogging”) service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application (such as Twitterrific).updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery of each post.

You can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. For SMS, four gateway numbers are currently available: short codes for the USA, Canada, and India, as well as a UK number for international use

Mogulus – www.mogulus.com 

Broadcast live via your own TV station twenty-four hours a day…free. You register with Mogulus and they give you software that allows you to create a television show. You are the producer. You can load in existing emergency management videos and you and your staff can watch them at any time. Or, you create your own videos with a digital camera, load them onto your Mogulus TV channel, and create a TV show. 

Most useful to emergency managers is that you can video a table top exercise or a disaster scene and watch it over and over to learn from it. Anytime you want…anywhere you want…as long as a computer is available. You can watch it from home, on the road, at work, while traveling, or in your boss’s office. It is a very powerful tool that is easy to learn and use. Imagine…you can collaborate with your co-workers, your manager, or another in your profession who is 3,000 miles away or even in another country. 

Qik - www.qik.com 

Their tag line is “from your phone to the world” and they mean it. Basically, you download their software and use it to go live with your life by using your phone camera to broadcast video. Think about it. You are at a fire, a chemical spill, or a flood and you use your cell phone camera like a camcorder to stream it live for many hours without using the storage capacity of your cell phone. 

Currently, qik supports video streaming on Nokia S60 phones: N71, N73, N75, N76, N77, N80, N91, N92, N93i, N95, E50, E51, E61i, E65, E70m E90 Communicator, 3250, 5500, 5700 Xpress Music, 6110 Navigator, 6120 Classic, 6121 Classic, and 6290. Qik is currently developing support for other cell phones. 

Emergency Email and Wireless Network - http://emergencyemail.org/ 

The Emergency Email and Wireless Network provides free email, cell phone and pager emergency notification. Local, regional and national government agencies will update you on breaking weather, disaster or emergency information. 

Registration is simple:

  1. Go to their website.
  2. Click your state from a list.
  3. Add your email address.
  4. Repeat for other states (if desired). 

Emergencyemail also provides radar maps, airport closings and delays, and other notification services. They have been providing these services since 1999. I have been getting notifications from them for several years. They are always ahead of the media and the local weather channel by at least a few hours. All these social media tools are even more powerful when used together. Robert Scoble has coined a term, “Social Media Starfish” to explain how. His link below explains it. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/multimedia/2007/12/building-a-political-starfish.html 

Even though Scoble explains how the social media starfish applies to political and business organizations, the same principals apply to emergency management organizations. The new social media will revolutionize your work world. If you don’t see it yet, talk to your younger members.

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