Connect, Collaborate, Contribute

October Newsletter

17 Oct 2017 9:05 PM | Anonymous
What's Happening?
  • What Happened to September?
  • Hat Tip to Busy Digital Volunteer Groups 
  • SMEM Survey Open For Responses
  • SMWG Research Underway
  • Cyber Security & Digital Etiquette

Mark Your Calendars

  • Upcoming VOST Classes Announced
  • Early Registration Open for Government Social Media Conference
  • Quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting on November 18th 

What Happened to September?

If you were wondering what happened to our September newsletter, we missed writing one this past month because we, along with so many emergency responders, were extremely busy. Between National Preparedness Month and so many significant disasters and tragedies, it was hard to find time to draft this monthly missive. But we're back this month with lots of fun news for you!  

Hat Tip to Busy Digital Volunteer Groups

Since the end of August, so many digital volunteer groups have been CRAZY busy with important digital work in support of hurricanes, wildfires, the Las Vegas shooting and other key initiatives. We want to express our full gratitude to each and every person who has been involved in these efforts. 

Your work is important and sometimes unseen by some, but we are incredibly impressed by your commitment and support to help these affected communities. 

Here are just a couple of glimpses of the work:

  • Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST) have assisted in Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria along with wildfires in Oregon. 
  • Caroline Milligan (Virtual EMA Board Member) and Cory E. Grogan (Oregon Office of Emergency Management ) delivered Virtual Operations Support Team training to students at The State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, as part of the Hurricane Harvey VOST recruitment program.
  • Standby Task Force (SBTF) has been working a number of hurricane related missions for the UN and the US Coast Guard.  
  • Humanity Road has been busy with the hurricanes and the earthquake in Mexico.
  • The Public Private Partnership has been keeping situation reports from a number of disasters all in one centralized location at this link -->
  • And, Ushahidi posted a great article about how their maps and resource have been used by many of these organizations and others for emergency response this month. 

SMEM Survey Open for Responses

The University of Hawaii at Manoa has posted a survey entitled "Trust and Social Media for Emergency and Disaster Management" which is asking for public engagement. 

Now, this survey is rather interesting for those of us who have been working in #SMEM for quite some time as it makes some assumptions that platforms can be ranked in terms of trustworthiness. While we may not agree with how some of these questions are asked, we hope that each of you will fill this out to provide your comments and opinions so that these researchers may better understand how social media relates to emergency management. 

SMWG Research Underway

The Department of Homeland Security's Social Media Working Group (formerly the Virtual Social Media Working Group) has been working with contractors from Corner Alliance on a research project to identify and share innovative social media practices from public safety communities nationwide in support of S&T First Responder Group. 

The goal of the project is to provide emergency managers (EMs) and public information officers (PIOs) with timely and useful resources to utilize social media as a force multiplier in a way that best meets their community‚Äôs needs. Based upon guidance from experts in the field, the team will develop practical how-to guidance on: 

  • Building a social media business case; and
  • Incorporating digital volunteers into day-to-day and surge operations with a focus on planning considerations, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) templates, and other helpful resources.
Currently, the team is conducting phone interviews with thought leaders in the #SMEM sphere and recently conducted interviews with several of our members! Thanks to each of you who have contributed so far. 

Cyber Security & Digital Etiquette Resources

This past week, #SMEM friends Sarah Miller (@scba on Twitter) and Alisha King (@alisha_beth) shared a great presentation on cyber security and digital etiquette to a room full of 911 professionals at an Oregon APCO Conference. Their presentation was well-received and reminded us all that cyber security is everyone's personal responsibility. 

From avoiding social engineering to regularly updating your devices that rely on wi-fi, they shared a number of good resources which included the following good ideas:

  • has a great collection of cyber security resources
  • Cyber Security Training is available to Emergency Management / Public Safety agencies through TEEX,
  • SANS also offers great online cyber security training for employees,
  • PhishMe is used regularly by companies to train employees not to click on phishing schemes.

VOST Training Scheduled Posted 
We have posted all sorts of fun training for the rest of this year. New this quarter will be classes offered on Saturdays in order to better reach folks who work regularly during the week. 

These classes offer a great small-group atmosphere where participants have the opportunity to ask questions to ensure full understanding of what working with or on a Virtual Operation Support Team means. 

As always, these classes are free for members and $10 for non-members. If you sign up and can't attend, you will still receive a copy of the presentation and materials shared. 

Sign up for one of the following webinars today!

Mark Your Calendars 
There are a number of events going on in our virtual community that you might be interested in participating in. Here is a short list with links:

  • VOST Leadership Coalition Chat on November 17 ~ This is a quarterly call for anyone involved as a Team Leader or Team Member of Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). This hour-long conference call chats through lessons learned, recent activations and for emerging tools that teams are beginning to use. Sign up to get the call details! 

Are You A Member of Virtual EMA Yet?
  • MEMBERSHIP:  Here is our membership brochure for additional information. One of our key goals is to keep membership affordable and accessible for everyone.   
  • REFER-A-FRIEND:  For every paying member who lists YOU as their referring friend, you get a free month of membership with Virtual EMA. There is no deadline on this program. Any time you spread the word, we will honor your effort.
  • REFER A TECHNICAL PARTNER:  Our Technical Partner Brochure outlines the benefits of being one of our technical partners. We aim to create meaningful engagements among our community and the tech sector which benefit everyone involved.
  • Thanks again for your support with your membership and if you are looking for a 501(c)(3) to support us with a tax-deductible donation, help us build this organization into a true leader in the emergency services sector.                                              

Make Your Day GREAT!


Virtual EMA is a registered public charity with 501(c)(3) status. 

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