Hurricane Sandy will be remembered not only as one of the worst hurricanes to hit the eastern seaboard, but also as the first natural disaster where social media platforms played a significant role. Twitter and Facebook dominated the social media world and were fully utilized by citizens on the ground and in other locations. Local officials were the most active on these platforms providing citizens with real-time updates on closures, emergency response, and weather updates. Virginia’s Fairfax county published a metrics report tracking their social media outreach and discovered over nearly 400,000 views, 10,175 likes, comments, and shares on Facebook, and about 1,500 retweets on Twitter. In addition, New York City’s Bloomberg Office reached over one million individuals using social media over the course of the storm, and even used the photo sharing application, Instagram, to share evacuation route maps. Going forward, this will be the new standard for crisis situations. It is crucial Federal, state, and local offices are prepared with citizen engagement software and platforms to track, respond, and provide information for citizens- before the next Sandy.
Innovation in emergency response continues with the progression of several statewide 911 texting pilot programs. The program is tentatively scheduled to go live nationwide by 2014. The Federal Communications Commission would require all carriers and service providers to enable text services. Sprint and TeleCommunications Systems (TSC) lead the way in Vermont and Tennessee respectively, while infrastructure plans are still being brainstormed elsewhere. The pilot programs champion 24/7 365 days a year monitoring and legally requires carriers to ensure texts reach those even without texting packages.
These are only two examples of innovation in the social media and emergency response sectors, and IT companies should expect a slew of RFI’s and Sources Sought surrounding the growing technology.
Kevin Lancaster leads Winvale’s corporate growth strategies in both the commercial and government markets. He develops and drives solutions to meet Winvale’s business goals while enabling an operating model to help staff identify and respond to emerging trends that affect both Winvale and the clients it serves. He is integrally involved in all aspects of managing the firm’s operations and workforce, leading efforts to improve productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction.