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How NOAA Used Social Media to be One Step Ahead of Sandy

Howto.gov recently hosted a webinar on social media tools and Sandy. During the lead up, storm, and aftermath, NOAA had you covered. Personally, I was googling the storm as it happened, but looking back I should’ve just logged onto NWS’s facebook page. NWS tweeted and facebooked there way through preparedness with the country. They made a great point that though their office is small, their reach was wide as they spread timely and valid weather updates through their social media outlets.

They uploaded everything from satellite images of Sandy approaching, to rainfall and wind graphics. Retweeting FEMA messages and developing a one stop Facebook page that aggregated vital Sandy information all contributed to an informed and prepared user group. Periodic facebook cover photo updates with the most recent satellite images showed just how tailored their appraoch was.

With the ubiquity of smart phones, this was the first time in history that so many individuals who had lost power in their homes still had the most up-to-date developments of a storm as it was happening. After the storm passed NOAA worked to retweet the National Ocean Services information of damage surveyed from aerial views from planes. About a week after the storm they NOAA acknowledged their predictions of Sandy’s actualization as pretty accurate, but they didn’t say so without much expressed sympathy for the families affected by Sandy.

Ben Berkawitz of “SeeClickFix” also spoke of it’s use during the storm. SeeClickFix is a app that “encourages residents to become active citizens in taking care of and improving their city by reporting non-emergency issue in their neighborhood.”

SeeClickFix hadn’t been implemented in emergencies until Sandy, but once Sandy hit they allowed cities to use the resource to aggregate volunteers. First, the volunteers surveyed their neighborhoods to assess damage by Sandy, then as families need food and shelter, the volunteers began to report to FEMA through SeeClickFix.

New avenues are being explored during crises to spread vital information. Did you discover any innovative ways individuals or organizations communicated during the storm?

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