Tag Archive | Facebook

A Social Network for Emergencies Only

In the wake of a disaster, communities come together to help organize, support and repair the damage. Many online tools assist with this effort including Twitter, Facebook, and Google. What if you could bring all of those online communities together in one place? That is what the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management’s (SFDEM) new project SF72.org is attempting to accomplish. Described as  “San Francisco’s gathering place for emergency preparedness”, the project manifesto stresses connections over catastrophe.

The SF72 website aims to connect citizens willing to offer resources and services such as food, water, and a place to stay 72 hours after a disaster occurs. The SF72 platform would enable residents to preregister resources, supplies, and relevant skills, such as emergency first aid. Rather than searching by keyword or hashtag through multiple sites, people could log into this preexisting community and find offers of help organized by neighborhood.

The site is expected to offer a connection area for residents to connect and share resources as well as disaster preparedness videos and testimonials. During an emergency the site would switch over to live information feeds to focus on meeting immediate needs.

Research conducted by SFDEM revealed that communities with established social networks tend to be more resilient and facilitate citizen-to-citizen resource sharing.

SF72.org is being designed as an open source platform meaning any city in the country can borrow the concept and customize it further.

The website was given a soft launch in January, collecting user feedback, but the service is still in beta. SFDEM is currently looking for partnerships with foundations and the private sector to complete the rest of the project.

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I Didn’t Know You Could Do That

Rapid Notify is continuously striving to add exciting features and options that benefit our customers. We are often surprised to hear from long-time customers “I didn’t know you could do that” when discovering these system enhancements for the first time. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our outstanding capabilities that you may or may not be aware of.

Standard System Features

  • Cascade CallingNEW! This new feature enables your alert to discontinue attempts to reach a contact once a live person has been reached. The system will call up to three telephone numbers for a contact, until it reaches a live person (or answering machine if it is a non-emergency message).
  • Social MediaNEW! This new feature enables you to post messages to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Messages can also be sent via RSS feed.
  • Unlimited Emergency Messages – No charge for emergency notifications sent via voice message or email.
  • Interactive Responses – Receive immediate feedback with touch-tone surveys to poll alert recipients regarding response efforts, location status, etc.
  • Reporting – Dashboard access to detailed, downloadable delivery and status reports for each alert recipient.
  • Delivery Options – Instant, scheduled and recurring alert delivery options allow you to respond to immediate situations or plan notifications in advance.
  • Custom Reply-To and Caller ID – Enable an email alert recipient to reply directly back to the address you specify and select your valid Caller ID number for identification.
  • Multiple Contact Numbers – Assign up to three phone numbers to the same contact record in addition to an SMS Text number and email address.
  • Online Self-Registration Portal – Capture complete contact information directly from your website with opt-in, self-edit, and opt-out capabilities, keeping your data up-to-date and addressing privacy concerns.

Optional System Features

  • Inbound Toll-Free Number – A dedicated Inbound Toll-Free Number option provides a dedicated dial-in number for callers to hear your latest recorded voice message at any time.
  • Communications Desk – Send and receive SMS Text and Email messages and responses from a central dashboard. Instantly communicate with organization members individually or as pre-specified groups. Powerful staffing module enables you to share and fill shift openings with individuals, groups or priority groups.
  • Automated Severe Weather Warnings – Automated and geographically targeted alert notifications are delivered via SMS Text message and/or email moments after being issued by the National Weather Service.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping – Powerful GIS map selection tools can help you target your emergency notifications by geographic location. Create map-based lists with complete contact information including addresses (including self-registrants).
  • Master/Sub-Account Structure – Organizations with multiple locations can utilize a Master/Sub-Account relationship with customizable levels of visibility and control.

Fact or Fiction

Fact checking has been featured prominently in the media recently thanks to the 2012 elections. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that all major organizations need a method of fact checking and rumor control. A few good examples of this are FEMA, the CDC and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

Rumor control centers are being incorporated into major websites to help publicize accurate information in times of crisis or simply to provide transparency on important issues.

Technologies like email, text messaging and social media make it easy for alarming rumors to spread quickly and can often drown out the official sources of correct information.

Official communicators for an organization involved in a crisis are no longer the primary providers of information about the event. Now it is most often the public that is the first to witness, report and share an incident.

FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy website contains a Rumor Control section where visitors can find a running list of Sandy-related rumors and assigns a true or false status accordingly.

Fact CheckingThe LADWP Fact Check section is prominently featured on the front page of its website. This enables the agency to immediately combat false, misleading or incorrect information. It is well designed and clearly shows that the LADWP is actively monitoring the media as part of a comprehensive public relations strategy.

In the month following the recent meningitis outbreak Twitter users searched for the CDC over 13,000 times. The CDC created a dedicated web page to address concerns and provide multiple sources of information including an “At-A-Glance” list of statistics that is continuously updated.

Setting up a rumor control operation requires staff and resources to monitor social media and other outlets and the ability to provide response information in a timely manner. In the long run it could potentially save not only an organization’s reputation but perhaps lives as well.

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