Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Technology is driving the evolution of crisis communications

Well, first off, I just noticed that I've surpassed the 100K mark in terms of page views for this blog. Thanks to all of you for caring enough to read my ramblings.

I've spoken on many occasions here on how social convergence (mobile + social = empowerment + mobilization) is impacting emergency management and crisis communications. 

What it boils down to is that time is now crunched. Speedy reaction is a matter of life or death. That also means recognizing your organization is facing a crisis and that you need to flip the switch and forego routine.

So tech moves fast. How fast can you react? Now, imagine you're a chemical plant operator, a waste disposal facility, a nuclear site ... an incident happens. You deal with it ... have the message under control ... and then a drone shows up ! Yes a drone ... not a child's toy but a news gathering tool flown by an enterprising news outlet

Octocopter unmanned aerial vehicleFar from me to imply that you could ever "hide" things but the evolution of tech is making that even more illusory these days. So, openness and transparency become even more important in the crisis comms response when your words can be checked against your actions or the actual situation on the ground. 

But it's not all bad ... drones are now used in search and rescue, by fire services and even to deliver books (the beer delivery project via drone has been killed though ! ) ... Drones offer on site incident commanders fantastic new vantage points and info to support effective decision making.

So, back to our facility manager (chemical spill, hazmat fire, some other nasty scenario) ... I can hear you say: I'll spot a drone .... OK, maybe. But will you spot a pair of glasses? As in Google Glass? There are inventive people out there who have already modified the product to fit their needs .... Again, nothing is safe from the prying eyes of the tech savvy crowd.

Google Glass could be the greatest gift to emergency response since the walkee-talkeeBut there again, the positive side of tech outweighs the negative impacts. First responders have all the knowledge and info they need with the bat of an eye ... That technology will totally revolutionize the work of police, fire and EMS.

The point here is that adaptability and embracing new technology is an absolute necessity. Yes, you can keep the media a mile away from an incident site ... it's easy now but what happens when they all have drones? 

Your crisis comms plan or incident comms procedures have to recognize this evolution ... 

And if you're a first responder or emergency management agency, you must realize the advantages of this new tech revolution that gives quasi-military capabilities to almost anyone ... 

But I don't want to "drone" on ....'nuff said!