I've been watching the Hurricane bear down the East Coast and been following what various agencies are using for technology.
Was trying to put together what each agency should need for communications in disaster
1) Web & capacity- NYC.gov went down for a little while yesterday and people were quite upset. Show's the need for a couple things- updated website with most recent content at all times. And needs to be up at all times - you need hosting in the cloud with room to grow for spikes - like Akamai or Amazon cloud. Side note - lots of folks accessing key sites on mobile so need a mobile friendly website.
Emergencies really show need for federal and state/local to work together. While it's great to get the official FEMA.gov information, as a citizen you often look first to the city and county official and their statements.
2) Email - Email is still key to push out information. I received a number of key messages from officials via email - especially good for tactical orders.
3) Social media - My Facebook & Twitter feeds were full of hurricane updates today. Lots of it were friends sharing relevant government information (like the text message program below). It's key for government to engage in these channels and enable sharing as this is where a ton of volume is occurring.
4) Text message is key - I love how FEMA made it really easy to get key basic info via text. During the hurricane they were promoting "Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362."
Especially important as during disasters, power can go out (kill the home Internet and landline). Also the phone lines can get overwhelmed making it hard to make calls out - but still easy to text.
5) SEO - During a disaster, most people still go to search to find out information. You want government information to be at the top. Google likes .gov sites so this is usually doable - but you need to do some basics.
In general, most of these ideas are parts of any good government communication. Good communication in disasters does require prep and practice - you need good people & technology in place before problems happen.
What else is missing? What's key for disaster prep?