that could automatically identify pictures that might enhance the LAFD’s situational awareness about events, such as pictures that show fire or smoke.

Humphrey concluded his remarks by identifying several important lessons from the LAFD’s experience with social media:

• A partnership with information technology (IT) staff in the emergency management organization is important in part so that IT staff understand how emergency professionals are using the computers and network.

• Appropriate management of and collaboration with traditional and new media are critical components of each phase of a given disaster. There is often a gap between response (usually an acute situation) and recovery (a more ongoing process). Social media can smooth the gaps in the cycle by providing two-way communication between the affected population and both first responders and emergency personnel.

• Messages disseminated using social media need to be clear, concise, and, most important, actionable.

• The more one is willing to empower people and engage them, the more information the public is willing to provide.

• Understanding how people communicate with social media is important. People often do not simply state “help,” “fire,” or “explosion” but instead use such exclaimers as “OMG!” (oh my god!) or other slang. When one has three or more people within a 20-mile radius saying “OMG,” this can be a signal to look more closely at what might be happening in the area.

• Different phrasing suggests quite different meaning, as the following examples regarding a fictional shooting illustrate:

—I heard there was a shooting at 5th and Elm St.

—I heard there is a shooting at 5th and Elm St.

—I heard about a shooting at 5th and Elm St.

—I heard shots fired at 5th and Elm St.

—I saw a shooting at 5th and Elm St.

—I just saw a person get shot at 5th and Elm St.


Brad Panovich began by describing the multi-tiered warning process he uses to inform the public when potentially severe weather is forecast. The first step is a blog post several days in advance to increase public awareness. As severe weather approaches, Panovich begins issuing alerts or warnings via Twitter and Facebook. Many of the alerts and warnings

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