Blogs You Might Want to Check Out:
VOST Briefing at NEMA Mid-Year
How do you raise awareness of VOST Teams in the United States? If you answered "speak at National Emergency Management Mid-Year Forum in front of many state emergency management directors," you'd win for the right answer.
Earlier this year, we were invited by Oregon's Director, Andrew Phelps, who chairs the NEMA Preparedness Committee, to provide a 10-minute briefing about Virtual Operation Support Teams. This briefing went well and has resulting in additional invitations to brief both the quarterly NEMA Public Information Officers Committee and state directors in several other states.
Situation Report Research Study
While we were in Virginia at NEMA, Virtual EMA members met with Stefanie Wahl of the Free University in Berlin to interview for a study regarding how social media is used to share situation reports during emergencies.
Thanks to Eric Kant, Pascal Schuback and Cheryl Bledsoe who signed the research waivers and shared their experiences with Stefanie for inclusion in her research.
Stefanie and her colleagues interviewed a number of people here in the United States from Florida up through New York on this visit. Once the research is complete, she will provide a copy to us so we can learn about her findings.
NEMA Mid-Year Meet-Up
It is always great to see so many folks at the NEMA Mid-Year. We were fortunate to have great conversations with coordinators from the Social Media Working Group (SMWG), National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC) and a number of representatives from state/local emergency management programs.
We look forward to solidifying a few details about some fun participation opportunities in the coming months. So, stay tuned!
VOST Training Launches
Caroline Milligan and Cheryl Bledsoe delivered our first webinar on March 31st entitled "VOST 010: Why VOST Teams?" which provided a couple of case studies and aimed to share the value of virtual teams. We were thrilled to have about 28 people sign-up for this fun conversation.
Cheryl also unveiled the VOST Training Plan for the coming months. The highlights were this:
If you are a VOST Team Leader and are interested in helping us develop or deliver these classes, please email Cheryl at email@example.com as we welcome your participation.
Register Today: VOST Leadership Coalition
The quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting will be on May 19th at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. We have opened the event invitation so that you can register today so you can chat, share, listen or lurk with team administrators, leaders and members about what's new with your teams. Register today at this LINK!
Are You A Member of Virtual EMA Yet?
Make Your Day GREAT!
Congratulations to the Golden Post Finalists!
On April 11-13, the Government Social Media Conference will be occurring in Dallas, Texas. Each year, this conference awards agencies who have provided excellent examples of social media use during everyday and crisis situations.
The finalist list can be viewed HERE at this link location.
This conference brings together a large number of public information officers and technical companies to look at how the public sector may use social media to promote their missions. Even if you aren't planning on attending, look for the hashtag #GSMCON2017 and follow along on Twitter.
NEMA Mid-Year Forum Activities
Three exciting things will be happening at the NEMA Mid-Year Forum on March 21, 2017.
VOST Training Overview on March 31st
In late February, the VOST Leadership Coalition met for a conference call to chat about how existing teams are doing today. These meetings will continue informally on a quarterly basis. The next teleconference will occur in May.
On March 31st, we will host a webinar to discuss our future VOST Training Plan. If you are considering whether a VOST team can help your organization, we will share our experiences through a couple of key case study examples. We will also share our training vision for the coming months.
While the Training Overview is open to everyone to participation, VOST Training courses will be a membership exclusive in coming months as we want this to be a valuable opportunity for those who are supporting us through membership.
Register today for the March conference call at this link!
Situation Awareness in a World of Alt Accounts
Since our last newsletter, we have sworn in a new President here in the United States which has ushered in a lot of interest and focus on Twitter. Why? Because not only is our Commander-in-Chief still actively using his Twitter account, but because there have been a proliferation of "alt" and parody accounts.
While confirming the origination of Alt accounts can be nearly impossible at times, the presence of so many of these accounts could make obtaining situational awareness during crisis very difficult. If you rely on Twitter to obtain your news, checking sources and multiple account confirmation will become even more important in determining the validity and reliability of information obtained online.
If you want a sample of how complicated it can be to determine validity, check out@RoguePOTUSStaff and ask yourself if it's parody or reality.
Here are some articles about these Alt accounts:
Speaking Opportunity: University of North Texas (UNT)
Luis Tapia teaches a course on technology and emergency management. He is in search of several guest speakers who can provide their insight on technology and disasters.
In addition to a google hangout with several contributors, he is looking for individual guest speakers to discuss the following via Skype:
If you are interested in participating, contact Luis directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have opened an event registration link here so we can get in touch with you directly about details if you are interested in joining us.
VOST Leadership Coalition on February 24
For three years, folks involved in Virtual Operation Support Teams gathered for a monthly conference call to chat about issues relating to team development, activations and emerging tools as the VOST Leadership Coalition.
This group took a hiatus as we got busy building Virtual EMA and we broke up a subcommittee to work on developing training materials. We are getting close to sharing some very exciting developments as we will be kicking on a series of webinars on case studies, team development, policies/procedures, monitoring methods and training/exercise.
In addition to training, we will be hosting quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition Calls with the first one occurring on Friday, February 24th at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Register todayto participate and we'll send you the conference call details.
Remembering Bettie Wootten Tussey
Today, the #SMEM world lost a great supporter when this message was shared online by Bettie's family.
To all of my Aunt's friends, we are heartbroken to share the passing of Bettie Wootten Tussey this past week. We know that she touched all of our lives in a very special way and she will not be forgotten. We appreciate all your love and support in this difficult time and we will be sure to update everyone as arrangements are made.
With Love, Lynda, Scott and Susan
I would like to share, for a brief moment, about why Bettie's contribution meant so much to me. When I was just learning about social media, I met a number of real estate agents who had already embraced the power of social media. They welcomed me, mentored me and taught me so much. Bettie was one of these real estate agents who jumped into social media, at an age where many of her peers were retiring and exiting the new frontier for communications. Bettie had a feisty spirit. She supported disasters through Humanity Road, anti-poverty initiatives and supported women's rights with a passion. No matter how strong her opinions, she always met people with kindness and open arms. Thank you, Bettie, for your spirit, your service and your support of the #SMEM Community. Rest well, my friend.
Humanity Road shared a great tribute to Bettie at this link (CLICK HERE). It's worth a read for sure.
VOST Meetings in 2017
In 2017, we're going to offer two types of opportunities to learn more about Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST). In March, June and September, we're going to host quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition meetings. These discussions will be an hour long and will provide some case studies of activations or emerging tool highlights which will benefit your VOST Teams.
In February, we will host a "Where Are We Now?" Virtual Team Discussion which will catch us all up on what's been going on with Virtual Teams since we met last.
In March, May and October, we will be hosting VOST 101 Roundtables where we will be talking about key VOST 101 Basics. We will offer an overview, policy issues and team recruitment activities as topics for these special meetings.
These events will be on the last Friday of each month at 11a Pacific / 2p Eastern time.
Registration will be available shortly under the Events Tab on www.virtualema.org so that you can receive basic reminders and teleconference numbers for these events.
The Mid-Year Forum of the National Emergency Management Association happens in the same place every spring and if you have never been, it is a conference which provides an excellent glimpse of how the foundational doctrines of emergency management are formed. In discussions between state directors and FEMA, observers can better understand some of the key issues, practices and theories that will trickle down to local emergency management programs in the years to come.
This year, the Mid-Year Forum will be on March 20-23, 2017. By day, you can follow our committee live-tweeting and in the evenings, you will find a number of #SMEM greats at the lobby bar of the Alexandria Mark Hotel. If you are in the area, plan to stop by on either the night of the 21st or 22nd. And, if you are attending, let us know so we can be sure to connect!
What conferences are you attending in 2017?
Here is a great list provided by one of our Virtual EMA Members, Steve Peterson: https://www.domesticpreparedness.com/calendar/
There is a lot of exciting work planned for the coming year here at Virtual EMA. We are thankful for the invitations, requests for support and ways to get involved in projects that support our mission to strengthen partnerships among the technology, academic and emergency management sectors of our communities.
Here is a sampling of the projects we are looking to participate with:
Records Archiving Webinar with SMARSH
If you missed our Records Archiving Webinar in December 2016, never fear, this short webinar was recorded and you can listen in at your leisure. Check out the link here --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG5QsNaah_s
Thanks again to SMARSH and Government/Business Development Executive, Matt Dreese, for the opportunity to chat about this key issue.
Cyber Security Webinar Available
Columbus Public Health's Office of Emergency Preparedness hosted a great webinar on Cyber Security, an issue which is becoming increasingly important to each of us who work with emerging technologies.
You can download or stream the webinar here: https://www.columbus.gov/publichealth/programs/Emergency-Preparedness/Preparedness-Partners-Webinar-Series/
Thanks for Reading Our Newsletter!
Thankful for You!
As we now have a full year in the books, we are incredibly thankful for each of our members. Our goal, in these first 3 years, is to build both a solid membership base and continue to develop strong technical partnerships that can offer meaningful information, training and exposure to a world that is ever changing for emergency managers.
We appreciate each of you who have given us your vote of confidence and give us tips, articles and events to share each month.
If you are looking to join or renew your membership, remember we have an active $20 off code (ENYM6PDW) through December 31st of this year.
If we catch you renewing without using this code, we'll extend your membership by 3 extra months as a special way to say THANKS!
Records Archiving Webinar with SMARSH on 12/6
If you're an emergency manager, you know that the two constants in any disaster are a lot of paperwork AND litigation. These two constants make a good case for why you should be thinking about how to archive your records long before your emergency occurs.
On Tuesday, December 6th at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, join Virtual EMA's Executive Director, Cheryl Bledsoe and SMARSH's Government/Business Development Executive, Matt Dreese, as they chat about emergency management and the importance of archiving records post-disaster.
Register today at this link: http://www.smarsh.com/webinar/emergency_mgmt_public_records
Update on the #VOST Webinar
This past month, New Zealand had a rather significant earthquake. And since our friends at #NZVOST have been busy responding to that incident, we have had to delay scheduling the #VOST webinar we promised in last month's newsletter.
Stay tuned as we hope to deliver on this early in 2017.
Cyber Security Webinar on 12/14
Columbus Public Health's Office of Emergency Preparedness will be hosting a webinar on Cyber Security, an issue which is becoming increasingly important to each of us who work with emerging technologies. This webinar is free and will occur from 11:30a-12:30p Pacific Time.
To register for this webinar, please use the following link:
Mark Your Calendar for our First Anniversary
November 11, 2016, will mark the one-year anniversary for Virtual EMA. It has been a busy year, full of meetups, webinars, research studies and committee meetings. We hope that each of you takes a few moments to consider the value of your membership with our association. We thank all of you who have shared articles, presentations and your experiences with us throughout this past year. You make this a GREAT place to be!
Our Board has put together a web page to list the many activities that we have been involved with over the past year. Check out the 2016 Activity Report page to see what we've been up to.
We hope you will continue to spread the word about Virtual EMA so that we can make our 2nd year even more exciting. Find us on Friday, November 11th during #SMEMChat on Twitter to celebrate #SMEM and #VirtualEMA.
Introducing SMARSH as a Technical Partner
This month, we welcome SMARSH to Virtual EMA as one of our Technical Partners.
If you are not familiar with this exciting company, they provide email encryption, an archiving platform and advisor marketing support to both private and public sector organizations. SMARSH Headquarters are located in Portland, Oregon, and they regularly engage in #SMEMChat on Fridays and are interested in developing good relationships and meeting your business needs for archiving.
Virtual EMA will be partnering with SMARSH to host a webinar that you will find valuable very soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about this great company at www.smarsh.com.
#VOST Webinar: Member Exclusive
Board Members, Caroline Milligan and Scott Reuter have been actively updating their outreach presentation on Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST).
We are looking forward to hosting a webinar to unveil this presentation in mid-November (likely the week of the 14th). This will be open to Virtual EMA Members as an exclusive event and members will receive their invitation via email to this event.
If you are not yet a member of Virtual EMA, we encourage you to consider joining today. With the discount code below, it's very reasonable to obtain a year's membership for an accessible price.
The "Ubiquity" of Social Media
Last week, Executive Director Cheryl Bledsoe provided a presentation as part of a "Business Web Practices" Lecture Series at Clark College in Washington State.
This 90-minute presentation is full of personal stories of Cheryl's own experiences with social media in emergency management.
Check it out at this link --> https://bruceelgort.com/2016/10/13/cheryl-bledsoe-ubiquity-of-social-media-and-social-media-as-a-social-service/
Survey for Women in Emergency Management
Oklahoma State University is surveying women in emergency management to learn more about the barriers that women experience in this profession. The survey looks at mentorship, promotions and harassment in the workplace. Please take a few minutes and complete this survey to assist with this study.
Click here for the survey link.
Events to Check Out
Here is our membership brochure which describes the benefits of membership.
Virtual Leadership Summit Occurs This Week!
Tomorrow and Thursday, the Safety and Emergency Readiness Virtual Leadership Summit airs live on the internet. According to the schedule, there are a number of speakers from #SMEM including Brandon Greenberg (@disasternet) and Eric Kant (@etechops).
The two-day pass is free to watch this event online; however, to obtain access to the videos later, there is a cost involved.
Check out the Virtual Summit Website for additional information and to register.
New Resource: Visualizing Social Media
The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University launched a new online resource called "Visualizing Social Media."
According to their website, the NCDP offers a "free suite of trainings, tools and resources focused on how social media can be can be utilized to enhance disaster response and speed recovery."
The website is located at this link --> http://ncdp.columbia.edu/microsite-page/visualizing-social-media/home/
#30Days30Ways Celebrates Its 7th Year
In 2010, the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency started playing an online social media game to celebrate National Preparedness Month.
Players are asked to complete a simple task per day to enhance their own emergency preparedness. It isn't too late to play. And you might even win a prize. We are proud of our Board Member, Eric Frank, for his administration of this creative way to honor emergency preparedness.
Go to this website and start playing today --> http://www.30days30ways.com
IJISCRAM Calls for Papers
The International Journal for Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (IJISCRAM) is seeking all types of contributions, but they are especially are seeking papers that focus on the considerations faced by emergency management professionals, either co-authored with them, or focused on their experiences in meaningful ways.
Contact Zeno Franco on Facebook for more information.
Global Police Tweet-A-Thon, #PolTwt
On September 30th, the 6th Global Police Tweet-a-Thon will take place where police departments around the world are encouraged to share their experiences through creative online campaigns.
The hashtag for this event is #PolTwt and there is a website located here for additional information --> http://poltwt.net/
This is brought to you by the same folks who put together the #SMILECon which is a conference about Social Media in Law Enforcement. The #SMILECon will occur in Long Beach, California, in 2017 on April 3-5th.
If you are attending the International Association Chiefs of Police Conference in October of 2016, find the #SMILECon booth for a chance to win a free pass.
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.
Thanks for Playing the Damage Assessors Game!
In August, we partnered with ER Assist to conduct a review of their desktop and mobile applications to collect damage assessment information.
This application allows users to collect damage information, upload pictures and report location with or without internet connectivity. Essentially, it stores the data in the user's phone until such time as they find connectivity during disaster situations.
During the beta-test, participants used Slack and a survey to provide information and data to the developers at ER Assist. It was fun to engage and see their developers make changes to the application while Virtual EMA chatted about what they liked about the application.
We are still collecting feedback from folks who signed up to participate (whether or not you actually completed the evaluation) to help us craft better events in the future. Click here for the link to the short survey.
For those of you who completed the task and earned 3 months of membership, thank you for your effort on this project. We appreciate you!
Board Visit to Smarsh Headquarters
This past month, Virtual EMA Board Members were invited to tour Smarsh Headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Pascal Schuback, Eric Frank and Cheryl Bledsoe were able to tour the Smarsh offices and participate in #SMEMChat with the fine folks at Smarsh.
We had a great conversation about archiving, #SMEM and virtual teams while we were onsite. We even conducted an impromptu Periscope interview which we broadcast live.
You can find and chat with Matt Dreese (@mattatsmarsh) or Sean McLellan (@seanatsmarsh) anytime on Twitter!
Comms Connect Wellington
Remember a few months ago when Board Member Caroline Milligan went to speak at the Comms Connect Conference about VOST?
She received some excellent accolades for her presentation and we thought you'd be interested in seeing a larger article about this conference. The link is located by clicking here.
SXSW Panel Picker
One of our #SMEM friends can use your vote. South by Southwest (#SXSW) is a music and technology conference in Austin, Texas, which is very popular here in the United States.
The panels that get to present at this conference are voted on and selected by the community through crowd-sourced voting.
This year, Mary Jo Flynn (@maryjofly) has put together a panel entitled "Life or Death: Technology to the Rescue" and we can all take an active role in helping her by voting at this link until September 2nd.
Google Hangouts On Air Going Away
Are you a Google Hangouts user? In September, Google will be doing away with this product and users will now have to use other streaming platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook Live or Periscope for their streaming needs.
Here is a news article about the changes.
Twitter Suspended 235K Accounts Due to Terrorism
There has been a lot of scrutiny over the years about whether social media platforms are doing enough when it comes to ensuring communications are secure and not being used to plot criminal and potentially terrorist activity.
This week, another 235K accounts were brought down, bringing the total of closed accounts to 360K on this platform. To read more, click on this link.
Are You Using Instagram Effectively?
Instagram is a picture-based platform that is still an enigma to most businesses in the public sector. Because it cannot be managed from a desktop, it is a bit more challenging to coordinate communications and forces a user to be much more conscious about images, rather than narrative. A picture truly is worth over 1,000 words.
Here is a great article with some hacks to help you use Instagram more effectively.
This next week, August 8-14th, Virtual EMA will be hosting a special opportunity to evaluate a mobile application that collects Damage Assessment information during disaster!
Why are We Doing This?
It is one of our key missions, at Virtual EMA, to provide interactive games, trials and beta tests of new technology where you can learn about emerging technologies and provide your valuable perspective to a company who wants to provide the best tools possible to assist you in emergency response.
And the best thing?
No sales pitch.
ER Assist is seeking genuine advice from you about how intuitive this mobile app is to use, what features you like and dislike and what key price points you think might fly in today's market. They don't want your fluffy opinions, but rather your honest thoughts about what you see.
How Will it Work?
Everyone who signs up will receive a special code, by email, to access the application. You will use this to access the app, play around with what you see and then complete a short survey of your findings. This won't take too much time, but your advice will be critical to ER Assist in helping them to shape the right path for this app's future.
What's In It for Me?
Virtual EMA will provide each participant with 3 months of membership at no cost to you. Our goal is to have engaged and participating members (and if you check out our referral program, the more you engage, the more it pays off for you and we win because you will help us continue to build a thriving organization!)
Sign Up Today --> Damage Assessor Game
The evaluation period runs August 8-14, 2016. If you register to participate, you will receive your invitation code to login in to the software on 8/7/16 along with the exercise scenario to help guide you through the product features. Feedback will be solicited through an online survey, and you will receive the survey link after you have logged into the system and executed the test environment. While participation time may vary, we believe you could complete this evaluation in 60-90 minutes.
For your participation in this opportunity, you will receive 3 free months of membership in Virtual EMA and a complimentary subscription to ER Assist PDA! We sincerely appreciate your time and help in this endeavor.
We will use the hashtag #DAGames for this event. To register to participate, please sign up at this link --> Damage Assessors Game
Virtual EMA is a registered public charity with 501(c)(3) status.