Creative Commons via earbirding.com

If you are part of the Social Media & Emergency Management conversations on Twitter, Facebook or Linked In (which are commonly found under the #SMEM hashtag), you may not realize that a special anniversary is right around the corner on November 11th.

While November 11th is more popularly known as the special day that we honor our War Veterans here in the United States, it is also the day that someone first used the #SMEM hashtag on Twitter.

If you want to check out a cool visualization of the over 39K #SMEM Tweets since February 2011, check out this link: http://archivist.visitmix.com/CherylBle/1

As someone who has really enjoyed connecting with folks over #SMEM, I thought it would be cool to outline some of the successes that we’ve seen over the past 365 days:

  • After seeing no focus on social media & emergency management at the International Association of Emergency Management conference in 2010, a few folks on Twitter, most notably Jeff Phillips (@losranchosem) decided to host  a conference call to see what could be done at a future National Emergency Management Association (NEMA Conference).
  • In those early days, we were using a Pirate Pad to chat online along with our conference calls.  A favorite memory of mine was seeing FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate (@craigatfema) check in on one of the conference calls which made many of us realize suddenly how small the world was becoming thanks to social media.
  • SMEMCamp, at the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Conference, was an event created by folks, active in SMEM, to share social media experiences with other emergency managers.  A White Paper was developed by Crisis Commons about the SMEM Camp 11 event which can be seen at this link:  http://crisiscommons.org/2011/09/03/smempape/
  • SMEMCamp was also the first time that a Virtual Operations Support Team was used to monitor the video/audio outputs, archive and engage with online traffic.  This concept was developed by Jeff Phillips (@losranchosem) and a number of folks were involved in that first VOST.
  • #SMEMChat started on Twitter on January 28, 2011 by Jeff Phillips (@losranchosem).  This is an hour long chat on Fridays from 12:30p-1:30p EST on Twitter using the #SMEMChat as our hashtag.  We have completed 42 chats and we owe a huge shout-out to Bill Smith (@EmrgncyTraffic) who has diligently archived each of these chats for our community.  You can check out our chat list at: http://www.sm4em.org/smemchat/
  • In May 2011, we saw testimony on Capitol Hill by both Craig Fugate and Heather Blanchard of Crisis Commons about the use of social media during emergencies.
  • May 19th saw the first #140 Character Conference to focus on the public sector occurred on the west coast under the hashtag #140ConfNW, media and role of social media in the public safety sector.  The speaker videos are still available online and use for both the morning and afternoon sessions.  One of the emcee’s for this event was Eric Holdeman (@eric_holdeman).  Speakers included Bill Boyd (@chiefb2), Carol Dunn (@caroldn), Scott Reuter (@sct_r), Stephanie Fritts (@tsunamisteph), Denise Rowlett (@disasterdenise), Scott Clemetson (@disastermansc) and Cheryl Bledsoe (@cherylble)
  • May also saw the launch of #2BeeRdy which is a website focused on emergency preparedness and put together by folks who are active in the SMEM Community, most notably Chuck Wilson (@g1159bw), Wendi Pickford (@greenwormstudio), William JP Smith (@WJSmithEMT), Chris Hall (@thefiretracker2), Gina Arnold-Stone (@twnstar2), Gary Oldham (@garytx), and Ken Kempter (@RamblingChief)
  • The National Level Exercise, also in May, had a specific social media component that was evaluated this year.  It’s the first time social media has been incorporated to an exercise of this scope.
  • In June 2011, the National UASI Conference hosted a #SMEM Panel of speakers that included Heather Blanchard (@poplifegirl), Alisha Beth Griswold (@alisha_beth), Alicia Johnson (@urbanareaalicia), Mark Basnight (@markbasnight) and Cheryl Bledsoe (@cherylble)
  • In September 2011, the Crisis Camper Tour hit the road and visited a number of locations throughout the country, talking about social media and its use during emergencies.  This Tour was coordinated by Pascal Schuback (@schuback) of Crisis Commons.
  • In October 2011, the DHS Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG) which works under the First Responder Communities of Practice, completed its draft document to encourage public agencies to begin using social media.  This group, facilited by Sara Estes Cohen (@saraestescohen) and initially chaired by Hal Grieb (@hal_grieb) coordinated a motley crew of #SMEM voices towards creation of this guidance.  Thanks now to Adam Crowe (@adamscrowe) who has stepped up to facilitate these conference calls since Hal’s departure to the private sector.
  • And, next week, the International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM) will launch its Emerging Technologies Ad Hoc Committee under Alisha Beth Griswold (@alisha_beth) at its conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing work of a few community bloggers which include Kim Stephens, Bill Boyd, Eric Holdeman, Jim Garrow and Patrice Cloutier.  These folks have consistently engaged with the #SMEM community and raised the conversation to new levels over and over again.
  • And beyond the individuals, we have seen huge disasters this year that have used social media in new and incredible ways.  Shout-outs are deserved for the social media use in the Queensland Flooding, Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, instability in Egypt, Libya and other parts of the Middle East, New Zealand’s Earthquake, Joplin Tornadoes, Hurricane Irene and others.

Now, before I close out this lengthy post, I’ll apologize for every name and incident that I have forgotten.  The #SMEM community is large and there is no doubt I have forgotten some very significant contributions of wonderful folks who we chat with every day.  Know that every voice makes up a community and that I am honored to live and serve among you all.

Happy Birthday, #SMEM Community!  May each year bring us closer to communications which reach all of the citizens we serve.

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