Federal Emergency Management Agency

Got natural disasters? There’s an open source emergency preparedness toolkit for that

City72

Source: toolkit.sf72.org

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and woke up at to a 6.1 earthquake at 3:30 a.m. this morning, now would be a good time for citizens and local governments everywhere to take a look at City72 Toolkit.

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management recently partnered with design firm IDEO to create the City72 Toolkit, an open source “emergency preparedness platform that promotes community resilience and connection.”

The toolkit is now freely-available to cities everywhere to re-purpose and customize to provide information to their own residents.

SFDEM’s Kristin Hogan Schildwachter shares the inspiration for City72 and how other cities can easily create their own.

What is City72 Toolkit?

City72 is an open source emergency preparedness platform that promotes community resilience and connection. This toolkit is designed specifically for emergency preparedness organizations and provides the information and resources to create a customized City72 site for any city or region.

It includes:

  • how to create localized content;
  • access to the code to build and install your City72 website; and
  • tips for how to manage and promote your site

How did it come about?

Until 2009, in San Francisco we were following the prescriptive “Make a Plan. Get a Kit. Be Informed.” emergency preparedness messages, which we modeled after FEMA’s national preparedness campaign “Ready.” And what we found was that we were only reaching a small percentage of the general public: the already prepared.

So, in 2008 our deputy director of emergency services, Rob Dudgeon, kicked off an initiative to redefine how we messaged and packaged emergency preparedness with the mantra “If we keep promoting emergency preparedness this way, we’re only going to get who we’ve already gotten prepared.”

We leveraged a lot of research based on social science data and also the findings from a major project assessing state of Bay Area Preparedness (the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative) Community Preparedness Project) to develop a communications strategy to redefine how we messaged emergency preparedness.

This strategy, the DEM Preparedness Movement Communications Strategy, became the basis upon which we communicated about emergency preparedness and informed our in-person and social media communications, but it was not reflected in our emergency preparedness website (at the time): www.72hours.org. We knew we needed to rebrand this website to align with our communications strategy, so we secured some grant funding and issued a request for proposal to redesign www.72hours.org.

IDEO bid on the RFP, and through a competitive process they were the selected vendor. From there, IDEO and its human-centered design approach helped us to manifest our vision resulting in www.sf72.org.

Meanwhile, we wanted to share our findings, experience and redefinition of preparedness messaging within the emergency management community at large. So, we wrote within the terms our final deliverable that it the web site be open source, so any other city could have access to SF72.org’s design and content.

To make this a more tangible possibility, we worked with IDEO to create the City72 toolkit.

How can others use it?

The City72 Toolkit provides cities ready to create their own version of City72.org step by step instructions for how to set up their site. It’s recommended to have some technical support from a web developer (or an internal city resource or contractor).

Who’s using it and how?

Right now, Johnson County, Kansas is in the process of creating its own version of City72 (to be called JoCo72.org). We have had conversations with other city offices of emergency management about City72, and we are hoping they may be the next generation of City72 sites.

How can others connect with you to learn more?

We would be thrilled to talk with anyone interested in City72.org. We can be reached via email at sf72@sfgov.org and/or Twitter at @sf72org.

Video

City72 Tour from SFDeptEmrgcyMgmt on Vimeo.

Should government outsource long-term or crisis-related social media?

Just noticed this contract solicitation submitted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a ‘professional media services company with experience and reliability in the deployment and delivery of professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations … used during pre- and post-declared federal disasters to support the OEA in its mission to prepare and disseminate information to the public.’

Having an outside contractor be heavily responsible for this role detaches the agency from its mission-critical work. I can understand services related to training and establishing processes that can then be left for agency employees to execute, but on-call assistance? Long-term or crisis-related social media and outreach should be the agency’s core focus.

What do you think?

From the solicitation:

FEMA’s OEA requires on-demand services of a professional media services company with experience and reliability in the deployment and delivery of professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations throughout the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These services are used during pre- and post-declared federal disasters to support the OEA in its mission to prepare and disseminate information to the public.

The contractor(s) will be responsible for working with FEMA personnel to produce and deliver pre- and post-event information, including public communications, through national and local news media, agency social media efforts, and situational awareness support of: the Agency Administrator’s Office, senior leadership, the Disaster Operations Division (to include the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and all Regional Response Coordination Centers), Headquarters, Regional Offices, Joint Field Offices, Transitional Recovery Offices, Long Term Recovery Offices, and other DHS/FEMA facilities.

(HT Washington Technology)