E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Emergency 2.0 and Social Software – Making Enterprise 2.0 Really Matter

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A couple of the folks that I get to read on a regular basis have been commenting in the last couple of days on a news item, originally from PCWorld, titled LA Fire Department all ‘aTwitter’ over Web 2.0, where throughout the article itself you would be able to read further how the L.A. Fire Department is starting to make use of social software tools like Twitter in order to be able to handle whatever emergencies and crises in a much more efficient and effective way by spreading information around much faster than through traditional tools. Quite an interesting read, to say the least, and a real business case for Twitter, nevertheless.

This particular topic is something that I have been thinking about myself quite a bit lately, specially after the recent fires in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, amongst other Canary Islands, and which I feel that Rob Paterson has put together quite nicely over at the FASTForward Blog in Social Media Adoption – Maybe a Crisis Will Help? Mike Gotta has made also an excellent point about how much we may be underestimating social software tools when handling crises of whatever the magnitude, just because most people may be using some of those tools for fun.

For a number of years we have given lots of importance to Knowledge Management in the business world, and lately that same focus seems to have gone into social computing as way to validate it for us all, but how about if, instead of just focusing on the corporate world, we would have KM and social software focusing on what really matters: the day to day stuff that can affect your own life (And that of your loved ones) and the environment for many years to come.

Yes, that is right. This is something that I have already talked about in the past. Just because you cannot justify the business usage of various social software tools it does not mean they are not useful to knowledge workers out there in general. On the contrary. That is exactly what the LAFD has proved with their adoption of different social software tools. Just like Mike Gotta mentioned, it is not about justifying the use of Twitter, or also of blogs, YouTube video channels, Flickr, podcasts, etc. etc. It is just a matter of making use of these tools to live and work smarter and not necessarily harder.

I mean, can you imagine if the local fire department, and the local government, here in Gran Canaria, would have set up a blog, or a podcast, or a Flickr account or even a Twitter channel a couple of years back and started educating the population in general on what could happen on a catastrophe of such proportions at this one and at the same time educate us all in what we could do to help, I bet that the end result of the disaster would have been completely different.

In fact, not only would the impact of the crisis would have been minimal, but there would have been from day one a very strong sense of belonging to the community from all parties involved that would have helped avoid having to go through such tough times as part of that prevention and education that would have taken place from way before.

This is one of the main reasons why in the past I have always been a very big fan of KM weblogs like those from Dave Pollard (How to Save the World) and David Stephenson (The Homeland Security 2.0 Blog) and why over the last few days I feel that it may be a good time now to explore how social software could help a group of people heal their wounds and those of their motherland, the land where they were born and raised, and help prevent future disasters like this one and, if not, at least, prepare us all to make the most out of it and help keep the damage to a minimum.

That is exactly what the LAFD has done thus far and I seriously hope that more and more folks would chime in these efforts. Because, after all, why should you worry about the corporate world and its adoption of social software when there are much more important things to safeguard, like your home, your family, the environment where you live (And work), in short,  the things your treasure the most.

Would you be up for the challenge? Would you start focusing where we would need to focus on while encouraging the adoption of social software? What is your local government doing on the subject? Are we all prepared to prevent the next disaster? Would you know how to react and help out? Perhaps too many questions out there. Perhaps we should start getting some answers for them…

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1 comment

  1. Luis:

    Another source to check out is this interview with Ike Pigott of the American Red Cross conducted by Shel Holz:


    I chatted with Ike last week and was struck with the no-nonsense approach he has to this area of applying social media and social networking in emergency situations. I’ve been researching this area recently myself and have been quite impressed with the “pockets” of clever and intelligent applications I’m seeing.

    Yet — at least here in the U.S. — there still seems to be an overall lack of awareness of the need to integrate social media and networking with other more traditional communications techniques. With the LAFD experience you cite, recent employment of social media in the Minneapolis bridge collapse, and the work of people like Pigott, this does appear to be changing.


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