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  • 15 Jul 2018 9:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • Board Member Welcomes
    • Virtual EMA in Philadelphia
    • Join #SMEMChat on Fridays
    • Interesting #SMEM Articles
    • VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting
    • Virtual EMA Newsletter Survey

    Board Member Welcomes

    We have two excellent ladies who have been appointed to serve on our Board. 

    We'd like to welcome Cecile Glassy from California, who comes to us with experience in both education and technology. She currently works for a school district in Santa Clara and works with technology as part of her everyday service. 

    We also welcome Dr. Lise St. Denis who is Research Scientist from the EarthLab at the University of Colordo Boulder. Lise has been

     studying the #SMEM and role of Virtual Teams in emergencies for a number of years and her insight and knowledge will be an excellent addition to our board. 

    There is one more opening on our Board. If you are interested in applying for this opening, please apply by clicking on THIS LINK. We will take applications through August 15th for a 2-year appointment, beginning this fall.  

    Virtual EMA Visits Philly

    In June, Cheryl Bledsoe and Cory Grogan visited Philadelphia to meet with a diverse group of Public Information Officers, Emergency Managers, Public Health and Private Sector partners to talk about Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). Cory spoke about Oregon's use of VOST teams during emergency incidents in Oregon, while Cheryl shared about how to set up and utilize VOST teams. 

    In addition, Jim Garrow, from Philadelphia's public health sector, spoke about local use of VOST concepts during the Pope's visit and during political conventions. The group concluded a great day of conversation by walking through an exercise to negotiate VOST missions based on several emergency scenarios. It was a lovely day of conversation, networking and sharing. 

    Join #SMEMChat on Fridays

    When is the last time you visited www.twitter.com to share information? Are you regularly lurking and practicing how to have a conversation with people online? Do you regularly reach out and say "hi" to colleagues all over the world?

    If the answer to these questions isn't "yesterday" and "YASSSSS," you are missing an opportunity to understand a form of communication that could be vital to your next emergency. It is important that you know how this platform works and how to reach out to others. Every Friday at 12:30p Eastern, a facilitated conversation occurs around a broad spectrum of social media in emergency management topic. You can find this conversation by putting #smemchat into the search bar on Twitter.

    Join in the conversation and brush up on your Twitter skills. You will find people who will say "hi" and talk back to you. And, you might just find yourself a little more ready for your next crisis. 

    Social Media / Emergency Management Articles

    There are several interesting articles recently which we wanted to make sure you didn't miss when it comes to emerging technologies:

    • Scanner Groups Beat Media Reporting. This is interesting because these groups exist in nearly every community. Are you building relationships with your local scanner group leaders? You should as they will be amplifying your emergency with large follower groups whether or not you want them to.

    VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting

    • July 20th Meeting: The VOST Leadership Coalition meets monthly now on the 3rd Friday of each month at 3p Eastern. 
    • Our focus continues to provide an hour where active VOST teams may share team status, lessons learned, upcoming training/exercise events and bring questions to an open forum for discussion among other team leaders. All are welcome to participate. 
    • This group meets via conference call at the following location. Somedays, there is also a Pirate Pad available for live note-taking and sharing (if the technology cooperates). Pirate Pad link is shared in the chat box if you join the call by computer.
    • Join the call: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/631-839-716#/

      Optional dial-in number: (712) 775-7031

      PIN: 631-839-716

    Virtual EMA Newsletter Survey
    • We would love to collect your feedback about our newsletter. We have two quick questions at this link and hope you can help us by sharing your insight: https://goo.gl/forms/IQfeSDry9E3kLTeg1


  • 22 Apr 2018 10:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • Thanks, Eric! 
    • #GSMCon2018
    • VOST Resource Typing Project
    • SUNY VOST Survey
    • Works in Progress

    Thanks, Eric!

    In its inaugural two years, Virtual EMA has been blessed to be supported by some amazing leaders. Eric Frank, (@fyrechief) has been one of those strong supporters and for that we are all thankful. Eric is an emergency manager and public information officer for the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) in Southwest Washington.

    In addition to serving on the Board as our Treasurer, he also serves on a number of other committees and projects that serve our whole community and he has fulfilled his 2-year term of service with our Board. Thanks, Eric, for serving with us. Your regular support will be missed but we know you will continue to be involved in exciting projects that we'll be hearing about. 

    This means at we have another opening available on our Board of Directors. If you are interested in applying for this opening, please apply by clicking on THIS LINK. We will take applications through May 31st for appointment in June.  

    #GSMCON2018

    This week, the hashtag to watch on social media will be #GSMCON2018 which stands for the Goverment Social Media Conference which will be hosted in Denver, Colorado. A number of Social Media Emergency Management alumni will be both attending and presenting at this year's conference. You can follow @VirtualEMA on both Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for our shares from this conference. Many key social media platforms will be providing keynote addresses which should be interesting. And if you are at #GSMCON2018, please say "hi"!

    VOST Resource Typing Project Progress

    Over the past 7 weeks, several Virtual EMA members have been involved in a special project to work with the NIMS Integration Center (NIC) to develop definitions for both Virtual Operation Support Teams and the personnel. 

    After these definitions undergo final review, they will be put into the pipeline for engagement so that folks around the country can weigh in and provide feedback on the definitions.   

    SUNY VOST Survey

    Andrew McMahon is conducting a survey regarding Virtual Operation Support Teams.  This survey is designed to inform a class project at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cyber Security (SUNY University at Albany). 

    No identifying information will be used, however a few demographic questions will be asked to inform participation rates. Those familiar with the VOST concept are asked to complete this survey, regardless of background or field. CLICK HERE for the survey link.  

    Works in Progress 
    There are some exciting things in the works that we'd like to share with you so you can start planning about how to engage with these cool opportunities:

    • VOST Workshop in Philadelphia:  Cheryl Bledsoe and Cory Grogan (Oregon VOST Administrator) will be heading to Philadelphia to participate in a VOST Workshop being put together by Montgomery County Department of Public Safety in June. 


  • 23 Feb 2018 10:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • Engagement Opportunities 
    • 2017 Annual Report
    • Board Applications Open 
    • Upcoming VOST Training Calendar
    • VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting on 3/9/18 

    What's Being Planned?

    • NEMA Webinar on April 4th
    • Government Social Media Conference, April 24-26th in Colorado

    Engagement Opportunities for Virtual EMA Members

    We currently have nine projects available for you to get involved in if you are a member of Virtual EMA. Over the past year, our Board has been using Basecamp to share ideas and develop a number of these projects. We are excited to expand this collaboration platform with each of you, as our members.

    If you are interested in joining one of these projects, simply reply to this email and let us know which project you would like to be added to as a collaborator. 

    • PROJECT 1: Collaboration with the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). We are currently preparing a webinar for April 4th. Past requests have included preparing briefings and responding to inquiries for the Preparedness, EMAC and PIO committees. 
    • PROJECT 2: Collaboration with #GSMCon (Government Social Media Conference). Current project is planning towards a presentation & Meet-Up at the April conference in Denver, Colorado.  
    • PROJECT 3: VOST Training Webinars. This project involves developing, reviewing and delivering training for Virtual Operation Support Teams via 1-hour webinars. We are always developing new curriculum and seeking ways to deliver these at different times to support teams in a variety of time zones.
    • PROJECT 4: VOST Leadership Coalition. This project supports facilitating a monthly or quarterly call of VOST Team Leaders. Finding speakers / presentations that would be of interest to VOST Team Leaders, promoting the agenda and writing up meeting summaries are all tasks for this project.  
    • PROJECT 5: VOST Resource Typing. We are currently working with FEMA contractors to develop definitions for VOST teams. We will need additional eyes on documents being developed by the contractors. 
    • PROJECT 6: Monthly Newsletter Development. Do you like to write small articles for newsletters? We could always use help in developing this publication for our members. 
    • PROJECT 7: #SMEMChat. Do you have great ideas for discussion topics for the weekly Social Media & Emergency Management Chat? This project develops the calendar of topics and generates 5-7 questions for each Friday's chat. 
    • PROJECT 8: Technical Partnerships. Are you interested in developing relationships with tech groups who may be seeking input from emergency management practitioners or who may have products of value that should be creatively shared with the emergency management community? Then, this project may be of interest to you.
    • PROJECT 9: Educational Engagements. This project responds and coordinates Virtual EMA's participation in research studies, review of educational courses and mentoring/development of students for the future. Current projects include responding to contractors on an information analysis tool, continued participation in the study / assessment of SMEM and participation on panels for higher education classes. 

    2017 Annual Report

    This past week, Virtual EMA conducted its annual Board Meeting which is open to the membership. At this meeting, we covered the following accomplishments of Virtual EMA over the past year. 

    • Virtual EMA is proud to be home to 91 members
    • We supported #SMEMChat weekly on Fridays on Twitter 
    • Provided monthly newsletters of engagement opportunities
    • Facilitated quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition Meetings
    • Hosted the annual #SMEMBowl 2017 exercise
    • Delivered 19 VOST Training Webinars (which started in April)
    • Presented to the NEMA Mid-Year Preparedness Committee 
    • Participated in Free University of Berlin research study on VOST Team
    • Conducted Training for NEMA PIO Committee
    • Provided presentations on VOST & SMEM issues for Oregon, Hawaii, Australia
    • Participated in DHS Sci & Tech Next Steps Assessment of SMEM
    • Added Patrice Cloutier to serve on the Virtual EMA Board
    • Facilitated Exercise Development for Australian SMEM Conference
    • Reviewed web-based materials for NIH class on social media engagement

    Board Member Recruitment Open

    We are extending the recruitment for our next Board Member through March 5th. The basics for considerations include the following:

    • Membership in Virtual EMA 
    • Willingness to serve for at least one year (preferably 2) 
    • Active in either Emergency Management or Crisis Communications as either a professional, student, or community volunteer or have a role as a technology partner or are engaged in the educational field with a focus on public safety / communications. 

    If this sounds interesting to you, please take a moment to fill out this application form. We will be selecting our next Board Member at our March 9th Board meeting.

    Upcoming VOST Training Calendar

    Our training calendar for Virtual Operation Support Team (VOST) webinars is available on our EVENTS PAGE.Classes are available for sign-up. 

    As you may already know, our course numbers mean the following:

    • VOST 000-090: Administrator Classes (KSA's for managing teams)
    • VOST 100-190: Team Member classes (theory-based classes)
    • VOST 200-290: Tool or Platform Specific Classes  
    • VOST 300-390: VOST Team Leader classes 

    The benefit of attending a webinar is that they are very conversational so you can get all of your questions answered when you participate in these live sessions!

    VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting is on March 9th

    The next meetings will be at 12p Pacific / 3p Eastern time on Friday, March 9th. If you'd like to participate in this meeting, you can RSVP on our EVENTS PAGE. You do not need to be a Virtual EMA member to participate. 

    What's Being Planned? 
    There are lots of exciting things in the works that we'd like to share with you so you can start planning about how to engage with these cool opportunities:

    • NEMA Quarterly Webinar: Virtual EMA will be presenting the quarterly webinar for the National Emergency Management Association on Wednesday, April 4th. 
    • Government Social Media Conference: Cheryl Bledsoe and MaryJo Flynn will be presenting at the 2018 Government Social Media Conference during the week of April 24th. If you are attending this conference, email Cheryl at cbledsoe@virtualema.org so we can connect with you at this conference!
  • 12 Jan 2018 9:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • Lloyd Colston Retires! 
    • New Board Opening at Virtual EMA
    • Upcoming VOST Training Calendar
    • VOST Leadership Coalition Returns January 19th

    What's Being Planned?

    • #SMEMBowl Exercise on February 4th
    • Open Virtual EMA Board Meeting on February 16th 
    • NEMA Webinar on April 4th
    • Government Social Media Conference, April 24-26th in Colorado

    Thank You, Lloyd Colston! 

    On the end of January, Lloyd Colston will officially retire as the Emergency Manager for Altus, Oklahoma. Many of us in the Social Media & Emergency Management (#SMEM) community first met Lloyd as @kc5fm which has been his Twitter handle since June 29, 2008 according to Twopcharts

    When Lloyd first joined Twitter, he quickly became active in a number of key #SMEM initiatives which included turning our online tweets into conversations over conference calls and Pirate Pads. Lloyd developed a Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST) team which worked on a number of tornado emergencies together, one of the most memorable being when his own local VOST team members were affected directly by a local tornado. 

    Lloyd has also been a long-time supporter of Virtual EMA. He has served as our Vice President and has regularly provided his wisdom towards our planning efforts. We will miss Lloyd's kind voice and passion for using all forms of technology from Amateur Radio to Social Media to reach his community with important information. 

    We wish Lloyd well in his retirement as he aims to spend some additional time with his grandchildren. Thank you, Lloyd, for being there and engaged with the #SMEM community. If you'd like to tweet Lloyd a note of congratulations, his Twitter account is still open at @kc5fm. 

    Board Member Recruitment Open

    Due to Lloyd Colston's retirement, we have another opening on our Virtual EMA Board of Directors. As such, we will be opening the recruitment again. The basics for considerations include the following:

    • Membership in Virtual EMA 
    • Willingness to serve for at least one year (preferably 2) 
    • Active in either Emergency Management or Crisis Communications as either a professional, student, or community volunteer or have a role as a technology partner or are engaged in the educational field with a focus on public safety / communications. 

    If this sounds interesting to you, please take a moment to fill out this application form. We will accept applications until the end of February.

    Upcoming VOST Training Calendar

    We have just released our first quarter training calendar for Virtual Operation Support Team (VOST) webinars. If you check out our EVENTS PAGE, you will find 12 classes which have been listed and are available for sign-up. 

    As you may already know, our course numbers mean the following:

    • VOST 000-090: Administrator Classes (KSA's for managing teams)
    • VOST 100-190: Team Member classes (theory-based classes)
    • VOST 200-290: Tool or Platform Specific Classes  
    • VOST 300-390: VOST Team Leader classes 

    The benefit of attending a webinar is that they are very conversational so you can get all of your questions answered when you participate in these live sessions!

    VOST Leadership Coalition Returns January 19th

    As requested at our last quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition meeting in November, we will be returning to monthly facilitated VOST Leadership calls. 

    The next meetings will be at 12p Pacific / 3p Eastern time on Friday, January 19th. If you'd like to participate in these meetings, you can RSVP for them on our EVENTS PAGE. You do not need to be a Virtual EMA member to participate. 

    What's Being Planned? 
    There are lots of exciting things in the works that we'd like to share with you so you can start planning about how to engage with these cool opportunities:

    • #SMEMBowl Will Return on February 4th, 2018: Virtual EMA will host an exercise in conjunction with the Super Bowl football game to practice social media monitoring. This is a great opportunity to network, chat with other VOST members and practice your monitoring skills in a fast-paced drill. If you are interested in participating, register for the exercise here: #SMEMBowl RSVP
    • Open Board Meeting in February: Our Annual Board Meeting will be on Friday, February 16th at 2p Pacific / 5p Eastern time. We will be chatting about our 2017 Accomplishments and our upcoming goals for 2018. You can RSVP to attend this meeting here: Annual Board Meeting
    • NEMA Quarterly Webinar: Virtual EMA will be presenting one of the quarterly webinars for the National Emergency Management Association on Wednesday, April 4th. We will share more information in a future newsletter. 
    • Government Social Media Conference: Cheryl Bledsoe and MaryJo Flynn will be presenting at the 2018 Government Social Media Conference during the week of April 24th. If you are attending this conference, email Cheryl at cbledsoe@virtualema.org so we can be sure to invite you to any networking events that we plan to host in conjunction with this event. 
    Are You A Member of Virtual EMA Yet?
    • MEMBERSHIP:  Here is our membership brochure for additional information. One of our key goals is to keep membership affordable and accessible for everyone.   
    • REFER-A-FRIEND:  For every paying member who lists YOU as their referring friend, you get a free month of membership with Virtual EMA. There is no deadline on this program. Any time you spread the word, we will honor your effort.
    • REFER A TECHNICAL PARTNER:  Our Technical Partner Brochure outlines the benefits of being one of our technical partners. We aim to create meaningful engagements among our community and the tech sector which benefit everyone involved.
    • Thanks again for your support with your membership and if you are looking for a 501(c)(3) to support us with a tax-deductible donation, help us build this organization into a true leader in the emergency services sector.            


  • 21 Nov 2017 7:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • 2-Year Anniversary of Virtual EMA
    • Welcome to our new Board Member, Patrice Cloutier
    • Open #SMEMChat for Thanksgiving Weekend 
    • VOST Training on Fridays / Saturdays
    What's Happened?
    • International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM) VOST Presentation
    • Crisis Communications Exercise in Australia

    What's Being Planned?

    • Partnership Opportunity with Dr. Lise St. Denis
    • VOST Leadership Coalition Moves to Monthly Meetings in January 
    • #SMEMBowl Being Planned for Super Bowl LII
    • Partnership between IAEM and Canada VOST

    Happy 2nd Birthday to Virtual EMA

    On 11/11/17, Virtual EMA celebrated its 2nd birthday as an organization. Over the last 2 year, we've had a lot of opportunities to connect, share information, regularly facilitate #SMEMChat and continue to have a leadership role in the development & standardization of Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). 

    And beyond our 2 years, November 11th also celebrated the 7th Anniversary of the conversation on Twitter where the hashtag #SMEM was used for the first time on Twitter. If you aren't familiar with it, #SMEM stands for Social Media & Emergency Management. And it wasn't the first acronym proposed. 

    Welcome Virtual EMA's Newest Board Member

    We are super excited to announce the addition of our newest Board Member, Patrice Cloutier. Patrice is no stranger to the world of #SMEM as he was one of the original bloggers back in the early days of online collaboration. We reminisced recently about how many of us jumped into blogging in those first few years including Jim Garrow, Kim Stephens, Chief Bill Boyd, Cheryl Bledsoe and Patrice Cloutier. 

    Patrice lives and works in Canada and has recently moved out of the government sector and into the world of corporate crisis communication efforts. Patrice has been an active advocate and leader with the #CanVOST team as well. We look forward to working with Patrice during his tenure as a Board Member.  

    #SMEMChat Takes a Holiday

    This Friday, many of our colleagues within the United States will be celebrating their Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For this reason, #SMEMChat will take a hiatus from being facilitated by @VirtualEMA. Of course, everyone is welcome to chat online during the hour of 9:30a Pacific / 12:30p Eastern on any topic they wish. We just won't have the standard set of 5-7 questions around a specific topic. 

    On a related note, if you are ever interested in hosting #SMEMChat, feel free to reach out to Cheryl (@cherylble) or via email at cbledsoe@virtualema.org. We'd be happy to mentor, load your questions into the stream, or point folks towards you as the facilitator. We want to be as inclusive as possible 

    Friday & Saturday VOST Training Classes

    We have recently started delivering training for Virtual Operations Support Teams on both Fridays and Saturdays. This is in response to requests to provide training in non-traditional hours so that folks who support VOST Teams may be able to find training in hours they might be available. 

    Currently, we have training posted through the end of the year at www.virtualema.org/events. We will post the January-March calendar next month. 

    Just a reminder about the numbers of our classes:

    • 000-090 Classes are geared towards VOST Team Administrators / EM Agencies
    • 100-190 Classes are theory-based, conceptual and geared towards VOST Team Members
    • 200-290 Classes are meant to be a platform-specific deep dive for VOST Team Members
    • 300-390 Classes are geared towards VOST Team Leaders and focus on team management

    IAEM Conference in California

    This past week, a number of #SMEM friends and Virtual EMA members were busy presenting at the International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM) conference.  

    If you watched or look back to the #IAEM17 hashtag, you'll find Chris Tarantino presenting on #VOST, Sarah Miller and Mary Jo Flynn also shared stages to talk about platforms like Next Door and other emerging technologies. 

    Kudos to all of these #SMEM folks for their part in educating our emergency management colleagues on how technology can be used to respond and recover in disasters. 

    Comms Connect Conference in Melbourne, Australia 
    This week, Caroline Milligan delivered a workshop on crisis communications and the importance of filtering and monitoring social media during periods of crisis. In providing hands-on instruction, Caroline facilitated an exercise using a "thunderstorm asthma" scenario. Virtual EMA Board Members all were able to support the exercise online with exercise messages planted into the stream for participants to find.

    The hashtag for this conference was #CommsMELB if you'd like to take a peek. Great job, Caroline!

    What's Being Planned? 
    There are lots of exciting things in the works that we'd like to share with you so you can start planning about how to engage with these cool opportunities:

    • Partnership with Dr. Lise St. Denis: Lise is currently working on a machine classifier that she and her colleagues are using within Earth Lab to organize social media content around disasters. Based on prior research, it could be highly useful for emergency responders in real-time. She is currently working with the AWS Disaster Response Team to explore how they would implement a real-time social media monitoring application in the cloud and to make it available to the emergency response community.  
    • In parallel, Dr. Denis is working with a data visualization expert on interactive components that she anticipates publishing for use on the front-end as a user-configurable dashboard along with a monitoring API.  She would love to work with any members of the VOST/Virtual EMA community who are interested in helping with the design of a front-end tool. Their goal is to have the first iteration available by next fire season. Anybody who is interested in collaborating in the spring on the front-end, please contact Dr. Denis via email at lise.st.denis@colorado.edu.
    • VOST Leadership Coalition moves back to Monthly Calls: This past week, we hosted another quarterly call of VOST Leadership Coalition friends. The group agreed that quarterly calls were allowing too much time to pass between get-togethers. So, starting in January, we will resume meeting on the 3rd Friday of each month at 12p Pacific Time / 3p Eastern Time. Our Events Calendar will be updated shortly to reflect these new meeting times. 
    • #SMEMBowl Will Return on February 4th, 2018: Virtual EMA will again host an exercise in conjunction with the Super Bowl football game. More details soon....
    • Canada's IAEM Chapter to Partner with #CanVOST:  The Canadian Virtual Operations Support Team or CanVOST is in the process of establishing a relationship with IAEM-Canada. The purpose of any future partnership would be to increase the knowledge and acceptance of digital volunteers by the broad emergency management community.

      Key to moving this forward, will be promoting CanVOST as a resource for all levels of government and large agencies in Canada. Already "battle" proven through support of the Red Cross for the Calgary Flood and to the Alberta Emergency Management Agency for the Fort McMurray fire. digital volunteers can have a role in every EOC across the land.

      Having CanVOST accepted as a national resource offering surge capability to any municipality, provincial EM agency during an incident. will only work through close collaboration with key officials. This is therefore where the focus on the team will reside over the next few months. More information will follow as it becomes available


  • 17 Oct 2017 9:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • What Happened to September?
    • Hat Tip to Busy Digital Volunteer Groups 
    • SMEM Survey Open For Responses
    • SMWG Research Underway
    • Cyber Security & Digital Etiquette

    Mark Your Calendars

    • Upcoming VOST Classes Announced
    • Early Registration Open for Government Social Media Conference
    • Quarterly VOST Leadership Coalition Meeting on November 18th 

    What Happened to September?

    If you were wondering what happened to our September newsletter, we missed writing one this past month because we, along with so many emergency responders, were extremely busy. Between National Preparedness Month and so many significant disasters and tragedies, it was hard to find time to draft this monthly missive. But we're back this month with lots of fun news for you!  

    Hat Tip to Busy Digital Volunteer Groups

    Since the end of August, so many digital volunteer groups have been CRAZY busy with important digital work in support of hurricanes, wildfires, the Las Vegas shooting and other key initiatives. We want to express our full gratitude to each and every person who has been involved in these efforts. 

    Your work is important and sometimes unseen by some, but we are incredibly impressed by your commitment and support to help these affected communities. 

    Here are just a couple of glimpses of the work:

    • Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST) have assisted in Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria along with wildfires in Oregon. 
    • Caroline Milligan (Virtual EMA Board Member) and Cory E. Grogan (Oregon Office of Emergency Management ) delivered Virtual Operations Support Team training to students at The State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, as part of the Hurricane Harvey VOST recruitment program.
    • Standby Task Force (SBTF) has been working a number of hurricane related missions for the UN and the US Coast Guard.  
    • Humanity Road has been busy with the hurricanes and the earthquake in Mexico.
    • The Public Private Partnership has been keeping situation reports from a number of disasters all in one centralized location at this link --> www.ppp.trustedops.com
    • And, Ushahidi posted a great article about how their maps and resource have been used by many of these organizations and others for emergency response this month. 

    SMEM Survey Open for Responses

    The University of Hawaii at Manoa has posted a survey entitled "Trust and Social Media for Emergency and Disaster Management" which is asking for public engagement. 

    Now, this survey is rather interesting for those of us who have been working in #SMEM for quite some time as it makes some assumptions that platforms can be ranked in terms of trustworthiness. While we may not agree with how some of these questions are asked, we hope that each of you will fill this out to provide your comments and opinions so that these researchers may better understand how social media relates to emergency management. 

    SMWG Research Underway

    The Department of Homeland Security's Social Media Working Group (formerly the Virtual Social Media Working Group) has been working with contractors from Corner Alliance on a research project to identify and share innovative social media practices from public safety communities nationwide in support of S&T First Responder Group. 

    The goal of the project is to provide emergency managers (EMs) and public information officers (PIOs) with timely and useful resources to utilize social media as a force multiplier in a way that best meets their community’s needs. Based upon guidance from experts in the field, the team will develop practical how-to guidance on: 

    • Building a social media business case; and
    • Incorporating digital volunteers into day-to-day and surge operations with a focus on planning considerations, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) templates, and other helpful resources.
    Currently, the team is conducting phone interviews with thought leaders in the #SMEM sphere and recently conducted interviews with several of our members! Thanks to each of you who have contributed so far. 

    Cyber Security & Digital Etiquette Resources

    This past week, #SMEM friends Sarah Miller (@scba on Twitter) and Alisha King (@alisha_beth) shared a great presentation on cyber security and digital etiquette to a room full of 911 professionals at an Oregon APCO Conference. Their presentation was well-received and reminded us all that cyber security is everyone's personal responsibility. 

    From avoiding social engineering to regularly updating your devices that rely on wi-fi, they shared a number of good resources which included the following good ideas:

    • OnGuardOnline.gov has a great collection of cyber security resources
    • Cyber Security Training is available to Emergency Management / Public Safety agencies through TEEX,
    • SANS also offers great online cyber security training for employees,
    • PhishMe is used regularly by companies to train employees not to click on phishing schemes.

    VOST Training Scheduled Posted 
    We have posted all sorts of fun training for the rest of this year. New this quarter will be classes offered on Saturdays in order to better reach folks who work regularly during the week. 

    These classes offer a great small-group atmosphere where participants have the opportunity to ask questions to ensure full understanding of what working with or on a Virtual Operation Support Team means. 

    As always, these classes are free for members and $10 for non-members. If you sign up and can't attend, you will still receive a copy of the presentation and materials shared. 

    Sign up for one of the following webinars today!

    Mark Your Calendars 
    There are a number of events going on in our virtual community that you might be interested in participating in. Here is a short list with links:

    • VOST Leadership Coalition Chat on November 17 ~ This is a quarterly call for anyone involved as a Team Leader or Team Member of Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). This hour-long conference call chats through lessons learned, recent activations and for emerging tools that teams are beginning to use. Sign up to get the call details! 


    Are You A Member of Virtual EMA Yet?
    • MEMBERSHIP:  Here is our membership brochure for additional information. One of our key goals is to keep membership affordable and accessible for everyone.   
    • REFER-A-FRIEND:  For every paying member who lists YOU as their referring friend, you get a free month of membership with Virtual EMA. There is no deadline on this program. Any time you spread the word, we will honor your effort.
    • REFER A TECHNICAL PARTNER:  Our Technical Partner Brochure outlines the benefits of being one of our technical partners. We aim to create meaningful engagements among our community and the tech sector which benefit everyone involved.
    • Thanks again for your support with your membership and if you are looking for a 501(c)(3) to support us with a tax-deductible donation, help us build this organization into a true leader in the emergency services sector.                                              

    Make Your Day GREAT!


  • 15 Sep 2017 9:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Due to the busy month of disaster activations, no newsletter was created for this month

  • 20 Aug 2017 9:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?

    Reading Recommendations
    • Emergency Managers Engage with Social Media for Eclipse Planning
    • Triangulation of Social Media Being Studied
    • Where There is Smoke, There is Fire and Social Media
    • Social Media Training and Community Support Keys to Terrorism Response
    • Google Launches SOS Alert Feature in Search/Maps
    • Top 11 Public Safety Leaders to Watch

    Mark Your Calendars

    • VOST Leadership Coalition Chat on 8/25
    • Virtual Team Training Webinars Announced for August & September
    • Safety & Emergency Readiness Virtual Summit on 9/12-9/14
    • Government Social Media Conference in Denver in April 2018

    Reading Recommendations

    This month, there were a lot of interesting social media articles that were posted across the internet.  

    The Great Solar Eclipse on August 21st has spawned a number of articles about how local emergency management agencies prepared to watch social media. Two specific articles discussed how the both the State of Oregon and State of Idaho monitored and engaged with social media to gauge their responses to this historic event. And then there was South Carolina's lizard men, right? 

    Next up is an article about the triangulation of social media users is being studied to determine if there is a better way to disseminate and monitor social media. We know there have been a number of groups who have studied this topic before, but we remain curious to see if anyone can automate what is often done by Virtual Operation Support Teams in a more manual manner today. 

    Wildfires and social media continue to appear hand-in-hand throughout our communities. While we have seen this for years, it's nice to see the research concur. 

    A Canadian study was published recently about how social media training and community support are vital tools needed to manage any terrorism-based event. This report has a lot of recommendations for law enforcement agencies.  

    Article 3 covers how social media affects the adolescent brain. This is of particular importance to consider with the recent focus on teen suicides due to the Blue Whale Challenge. Read The Adolescent Brain and the Dark Side of Social Media Challenges for more information. 

    #SMEMChat on Twitter each Friday at 9:30 PDT

    Each Friday at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time, people gather on Twitter to chat about Social Media & Emergency Management (#SMEM). 

    If you need to practice your Twitter engagement skills, consider joining a chat. Check out our #SMEMChat Webpage to read the chat archives or lurk the conversations.

    VOST Training Scheduled Posted 
    We have posted all sorts of fun training for the rest of this summer. Sign up for one of the following webinars today!

    1. September 8: VOST 300 Team Leader Role
    2. September 15: VOST 110 Social Media Monitoring
    3. September 22: VOST 200 Google Workbook 

    Mark Your Calendars 
    There are a number of events going on in our virtual community that you might be interested in participating in. Here is a short list with links:

    • VOST Leadership Coalition Chat, August 25, 2017 ~ This is a quarterly call for anyone involved as a Team Leader or Team Member of Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). This hour-long conference call chats through lessons learned, recent activations and for emerging tools that teams are beginning to use. Sign up to get the call details! 


  • 31 Jul 2017 7:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?
    • Reading Recommendations
    • Virtual EMA Board Recruitment Underway
      • Apply by July 31st
    • Mark Your Calendars
      • #SMEMChat Topic for 7/14 is about Text Messaging 
      • Virtual Team Training Webinars Announced for July & August
      • VOST Leadership Coalition Chat on 8/25
    Reading Recommendations
    We are always on the hunt for interesting reading and engagement opportunities to share with Virtual EMA members. This month, several articles that highlight what organizations should consider if they don't have a large marketing budget. 

    Article 1 focuses on entrepreneurs who work alone which we thought was important because often we hear from small emergency management organizations who feel overwhelmed by social media. We can tell you that the size of your organization should not limit your ability to use social media. Check out The 7-Point Smart Solopreneur Checklist for more information. 

    Article 2 talks about social media tips from folks working in the Cannabis industry. Before you scold us for recommending a marijuana-positive article, we want you to set aside the industry being highlighted and read the social media tips. Believe it or not, these same recommendations could apply to anyone engaging in social media. Read Cannabis Executives Share Social Media Advice for a unique perspective. 

    Article 3 covers how social media affects the adolescent brain. This is of particular importance to consider with the recent focus on teen suicides due to the Blue Whale Challenge. Read The Adolescent Brain and the Dark Side of Social Media Challenges for more information. 

    Virtual EMA Board Recruitment
    We are still collecting applications to serve on the Virtual EMA Board. We will be evaluating all applications at our regular Board Meeting in August. We are looking for creative thinkers who are willing to engage in discussion about strategic direction, work to influence and develop new partnerships and opportunities for our membership. If this is something of interest to you, please apply for consideration at this link: https://goo.gl/forms/uMCCAZ81J7sV3mrw2

    This, like all positions within the Virtual EMA organization, is a volunteer service position. 

    #SMEMChat on Twitter each Friday at 9:30 PDT

    Each Friday at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time, people gather on Twitter to chat about Social Media & Emergency Management (#SMEM). This Friday's (July 21) topic will be Texting and Messaging Apps

    If you need to practice your Twitter engagement skills, consider joining a chat. Check out our #SMEMChat Webpage to read the chat archives or lurk the conversations.

    VOST Training Scheduled Posted 
    We have posted all sorts of fun training for the rest of this summer. Sign up for one of the following webinars today!
    Other Notable Events 
    There are a number of events going on in our virtual community that you might be interested in participating in. Here is a short list with links:


  • 13 Jun 2017 6:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What's Happening?


    Calling All Virtual EMA Members: Apply to Serve Today
    • Recruitment Open to Serve on the Virtual EMA Board
    Gratitude & News to Note 
    • Shout-Out to Social Media Working Group (SMWG)
    • Facebook Mapping Tool Announcement
    • #SMEMChat Thriving

    Mark Your Calendars

    • "Until Help Arrives" Webinar on June 15th
    • Virtual Team Training Webinars on June 16th and 30th 
    • Other Notable Events 

    Join the Virtual EMA Board
    The Virtual EMA Board provides regular input about the activities and direction of our Association. Recently, one of our Board Members, Kim Stephens, took a full-time position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which limited her ability to participate on our Board. We sincerely thank Kim for all of her contributions in developing our outreach and technical sponsorship benefits. She has been a true leader on our Board.  

    This means recruitment is open for a new position. We are specifically looking for creative thinkers who are willing to engage in discussion about strategic direction, work to influence and develop new partnerships and opportunities for our membership. If this is something of interest to you, please apply for consideration at this link: https://goo.gl/forms/uMCCAZ81J7sV3mrw2

    We will evaluate applications mid-July, but keep the recruitment open until filled. This, like all positions within the Virtual EMA organization, is a volunteer service position. 

    Thank You, Social Media Working Group
    Over the past two newsletters, we have been encouraging folks to submit feedback to FEMA in the open comment period on the Resource Management set of documents from a social media perspective. And, the active Social Media Working Group (SMWG) put together a great set of recommendations about incorporating social media considerations into each and every document FEMA set out for review. These recommendations are appreciated and supported by Virtual EMA. 

    If you are not familiar with the excellent work done by the Social Media Working Group, check out their Information Page and set of documents that their committee members have been instrumental in creating. Excellent work, SMWG!  

    Facebook Mapping Tool Announced

    On June 7th, Facebook announced the presence of aggregated maps which should be available in times of emergencies which will illustrate location information for people who make this information publicly available. 

    Facebook has been using their "safety check" feature regularly in large emergency situation. Its utility during emergency response operations is still largely in question as recent conversations online have wondered aloud whether the presence of this feature could actually create more anxiety among social circles or less as people check-in. We do, however, applaud Facebook's interest in using their platform to provide emergency information and hope they are actively working with emergency managers to develop life-saving tools for our communities. 

    Join #SMEMChat on Twitter each Friday at 9:30 PDT

    Each Friday at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time, people gather on Twitter to chat about Social Media & Emergency Management (#SMEM). These past 2 months, Virtual EMA has really enjoyed developing topics and drafting questions for conversation. Using the #SMEMChat hashtag, the chats have really been fun. 

    If you need to practice your Twitter engagement skills, consider joining a chat. We also have developed a webpage that will allow you to watch or "lurk" the conversation as it happens at THIS LINK

    "Until Help Arrives" Webinar on June 15th

    The National Homeland Security Consortium is hosting a webinar discussion on June 15th at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Register HERE to participate in this webinar. 

    As part of America’s PrepareAthon!, FEMA has created a new initiative dedicated to helping the public be prepared to respond, until help arrives, in the event of an emergency.  For more information on the program and to download the course materials, go the program website at https://community.fema.gov/until-help-arrives.

    VOST 020 and 100 Training Scheduled in June
    On Friday, June 16th, Virtual EMA will present a one-hour training webinar on Policy Development for Virtual Operation Support Teams (VOST). If you are an agency, developing a virtual team, we welcome you to listen to experienced VOST Administrators talk about how they developed their Field Operations Guide for use of their VOST team. REGISTER AT THIS LINK.

    Then,on Friday, June 30th, Virtual EMA will present a one-hour training webinar on what it's like to be a team member of a Virtual Operation Support Team (VOST). We will be covering the basics of a VOST activation, provide examples of mission completion and how you can be best prepared to become a successful VOST Team Member. REGISTER AT THIS LINK. 

    Training is always free to members of Virtual EMA as part of your membership. Class costs for non-members is a nominal $10 per class to encourage attendance and participation. Emergency Management Agencies, who maintain a group membership with Virtual EMA, will receive a class code for their affiliated VOST Team members to participate in training. BECOME MEMBERS AT THIS LINK

    Other Notable Events to Engage With... 
    There are a number of events going on in our global virtual community that you might be interested in participating in. Here is a short list with links:

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Virtual EMA is a registered public charity with 501(c)(3) status. 

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