No more yellow tape — Did Twitter kill emergency management?

“Emergency management is dead. Well, at least as most people know it. It’s time for another revolution in the professional field of emergency management that embraces the impact, expectation, challenges, and potential benefits of embracing the integration of social expectations into the general public. This is not the first time the profession of emergency management has needed to revolutionize how it approaches preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation of hazards and risks,” said Adam Crowe.

Crowe is the Director of Emergency Preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University.

He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program why he thinks emergency management is dead.

People can get information from twitter and facebook faster than the government can give out. What we did 10 years ago in emergency management is no longer valid,” said Crowe, “basically there is no more yellow tape, people from within a crime scene are taking pictures and posting them to social media sites.”

The need for a shift is clear. Crowe says, “back in 2005 there was a bombing and originally the government tried to handle the situation by telling the public that it was a chemical explosion, but people onsite had seen a bus explode into the building, they knew better and they took to social media to tell their story. The government got caught in a lie and they can’t afford that type of negative public opinion anymore.”

This isn’t the first time emergency management has had to shift.After the 9/11 terrorist attacks we shifted focus toward homeland security threats to comply with changing standards and to stay relevant and eligible for funding considerations. During this phase, there was a significant push to embrace best practices in the Incident Command System (ICS) that had become the norm in disaster prone areas like California and to standardize response protocols to reduce miscommunication and to improve efficiency. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) became the foundation of many components,” said Crowe.

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Avatar photo Katelyn Keegan

I think social media keeps us more responsive in emergencies. And while OEM may no longer own the rights to the message, it has a key role to play. I am involved with an organization called Humanity Road that does a lot with emergency management using Twitter and Facebook. They regularly monitor posts about current incidents and pending issues (like weather) and use the social media to help direct rescuers and to equip the community to be more proactive for some diasters.

I would also recommend to anyone who is interested FEMA’s free online computer based training about Emergency Management and Social Media.


Seriously people?! EMs have been trying to solve the social media problem for years. It is not nearly as simple as one might assume. If you are interested in this topic, the AWARE (Alerts, Warnings, & Response to Emergencies) forum has covered this topic well: http://www.awareforum.org/tag/social-media/

Furthermore, read about how complicated social media gets when trying to gather real information from social media during an emergency: http://www.awareforum.org/2012/02/smemchat-using-social-media-to-navigate-emergencies/

Randy L. Dixon Rivera

Sadly, US Gov has been losing (lost) creditably with it’s own Citizens due to the FACT people have come to realize the #MSM was used to con America into a War like Iraq. enlightened people are now filtering FB & Twitter for real FACTS about important issues. They no longer trust their own government or #MSM to give them the true facts. Need proof? Who is discussing #NDAA and who is not? – @NDAA2012