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  • 11 Nov 2015 2:12 PM | Anonymous

    5 Years Ago, 5 little characters changed the trajectory of many careers. 

    #SMEM which stands for "Social Media in Emergency Management."

    About 10-15 fellow emergency managers, technology-interested, academic practitioners and digital volunteers started talking about how to use and apply social and collaborative tools to the field of emergency management.

    #SMEM grew and many different people began using the tag and working on a variety of awesome initiatives to advance the knowledge and understanding of crowd behaviors during emergencies, how to disseminate messages quickly to the public when seconds count and how data influences research and how to more efficiently use resources.

    Just to name a few key projects & initiatives:

    • #SMEMChat has provided an opportunity for many folks to use Twitter each Friday between 12:30p-1:30p Eastern to learn how to conversate over a variety of topics.
    • Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG) has been an active committee of the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate which has published a number of key papers relating to the advancing uses of social media in emergency management.
    • Digital Volunteerism has expanded considerably over the past 5 years with the American Red Cross, Humanity Road (#HMRD) and Virtual Operations Support Teams (#VOST) developing ways for everyday volunteers to participate in monitoring social media and being part of the global response to emergencies around the world. 
    • The Emerging Tech Caucus of the International Association of Emergency Management (#IAEM) has met regularly to provide hands-on assistance at their national conferences to teach others how to use social & collaborative tools. 
    • The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (#NDPTC) has developed and provided PER-304 "Social Media Basics" all across the United States and has two other classes under current development on Engagement Strategies and Advanced Social Media Tools which are coming soon.
    • Colleges and universities have also been working on #SMEM activities from a research perspective with many notable contributions from the Tweak the Tweet initiative and Leysia Palen's work in Colorado and Kate Starbird's efforts at the University of Washington.

    Why is the Virtual EMA needed? 

    While there are a number of emergency management associations all across the United States, many serve a very niche audience.  State-Based Associations tend to bring together city, county and state paid emergency managers. National & International Associations of Emergency management also serve state and local emergency managers respectively, but often have expensive rates of entry to participate. Both state and national organizations, while giving some support to collaborative tools, tend to still communicate in very traditional means. Newsletters, emails and conferences tend to be the only methods of engagement. 

    We wish to change that via the Virtual Emergency Management Association. We believe in the power of communication, collaboration and crowd-sourcing.  We trust that through the engagement of many, we can be creative, innovative and think about new ways to solve old problems.  

    To that end, Virtual EMA will serve to be an inclusive and welcoming Association which will serve to highlight, support and welcome initiatives which encourage the use of collaborative and social methods to build emergency management capabilities. 

    We are a registered 501(c)(3) Public Non-Profit which will give us the ability to use and offer the use of emerging tools and platforms to our membership.  

    Committees will be formed, based on the interests of our members. Members will be encouraged to share their knowledge in ways that we will aim to stream and record so that content will be available to review later, if needed. 

    We will be conducting proactive outreach with emerging technical and big data companies so that our members can have opportunities to learn early about new tools that can assist them in their positions or agencies who are dealing with emergency management missions. 

    We will be keeping our membership rates low and offer a student & volunteer rate which will always be 50% of the regular individual rate. Our corporate members will also be offered the ability to have their logos listed on our website as supporting partners. 

    Our website,, has a "members-only" section which allows our active members to see both a Member Directory and a discussion forum. We will be building out additional content as we grow this first year. 

    We hope that you will consider taking the following actions:

    • Join the Association today! Between now and 12/31/15, use discount code ENYM6PDW to save $20 off your first year of membership. 
    • Refer your friends and colleagues: For each member who lists you as their referral, we will reward you with a free month of membership!
    • Consider making a donation! Not only will your donation be tax deductible, but your gifts will help us determine what types of get-togethers, retreats or conferences we can put together for our members. 
    • Engage with us! You'll find Virtual EMA on many different social media platforms like FacebookTwitterInstagram, YouTube and others. Ask your questions and inform us of your initiatives. 

    Will you join us and be part of making our Association GREAT?

  • 08 Nov 2015 11:08 PM | Anonymous

    You have a formal invitation to join us on 11/11/15 as we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the first use of the #SMEM hashtag (which stands for Social Media in Emergency Management).

    • WHEN: Fun begins at 8:17 a.m. Pacific Time and every hour after that on the :11 of each hour.
    • WHAT TO EXPECT: Learn more about the values, vision, direction and dreams for the Virtual EMA. 
    We're looking forward to a great launch and a fun association. Join us!

  • 31 Oct 2015 2:27 PM | Anonymous

    Three days ago, we sent an email out to all of our supporters who have indicated interest in Virtual EMA at various times over the past year. In this email, we shared information about various ways people can support the launch of Virtual EMA through being an ambassador.  

    Because our Board Members & Director have some pretty extensive email lists these days, we intentionally didn't want to spam large groups with information about this organization. We believe, instead, that engagement requires us to generate meaningful connections with folks who have a genuine interest or desire to build something cool. 

    So, if you didn't get the first email, it isn't too late. We want to include everyone who is interested. Reach out and let us know you are interested in receiving pre-launch information.  Some pre-launch benefits will expire on 11/11/15 which is our official launch date. 

    Tweet to @VirtualEMA 

    Like us on Facebook at 

    Email us at or fill out the Contact Form found on this website. 

  • 29 Oct 2015 7:42 PM | Anonymous
    The Board and I have been busy working on the official launch activities for the Virtual Emergency Management Association (Virtual EMA). 

    Our mission is easy: 
    • Build Bridges between Emergency Management, Technology & Research to do what works to serve our communities. 
    We will strive to network, inspire, innovate and be different. We aim to engage the whole community to listen, learn and think in new ways. 

    We hope you will be as excited as we are to develop and build a unique organization. It will take all of us, using our skills and abilities, to create something incredible together. 

    Does this sound like fun?  Become a member today!  

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

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