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In Interview, Red Cross Social Media Director Talks About What Was …

Yesterday, I attended the American Red Cross’ first-ever “Emergency Social Data Summit”. It was a really interesting and invigorating day focusing on how to utilize new technologies, including social media, to address gaps in crisis preparedness and response.

There was a whole lot of information, ideas and energy among the 200 attendees at the Red Cross’ Hall of Service in Washington and the hundreds of others who joined remotely from around the U.S. and the world. Red Cross’ CEO Gail McGovern summed up the event very well late in the afternoon when she said “my brain is exploding” from everything she took in during the day. (C-SPAN filmed the conference which can be found here.)

I will be writing up my own impressions on the blog, but in the interim I thought I would ask one of the Summit organizers, Red Cross Social Media Director Wendy Harman, for her initial thoughts on the day and the next steps.

In the five-and-half-minute video below, Harman offers a nice summary for those who were not able to attend in person or remotely. Harman discusses the goals of the conference including identifying and raising awareness of the gaps in disaster response, reaching consensus on what can be done to address the issues, and beginning to determine future action items. She hopes the event helped get the attention of the emergency management and non-profit community of the potential of technology to assist and tap the capacity of regular citizens in crises.

American Red Cross Social Media Director Wendy Harman Discusses The “Emergency Social Data Summit”

As far as future steps, Harman says that the Red Cross will be going through and analyzing all the discussions both inside the conference room as well as online. It will be reporting out the findings by completing the Summit White Paper whose initial chapters can be read here.

Those interested in the follow-up, Harman says, should check the Summit wiki (which now has the reports of roundtables both at the event and on Twitter with some initial ideas on proposals and priorities). Harman says she hopes anyone who has some ideas should contribute them to the wiki.

Harman also raises an interesting idea that was discussed throughout the day — should there be a 4th basic citizen preparedness step added to “Get A Kit”, “Make A Plan”, & “Get Informed” along the lines of “getting to know your community” which might range from asking citizens to store emergency numbers in their mobile phones to personally connecting with their neighbors in advance of an emergency situation.

I think this is a good idea which both captures the need to integrate new technology into preparedness recommendations and also better highlights the fact that personal community building should featured more as a key citizen disaster resilience objective. I have written often about to need to better define what ‘preparedness’ means for the public, and I believe this proposal should be part of those discussions.

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