Although the rate of adoption of social media and the sophistication of their use by emergency managers vary considerably, it does appear that emergency managers have come to generally appreciate the potential value of social media. However, workshop participants cited a number of barriers that still exist to the effective use of social media in the practice of emergency management. These barriers stem in no small part from an incomplete understanding, as discussed above, of how to use social media in disasters and the relative newness of the medium.
Some specific challenges include the following:
• Limited knowledge about information-sharing techniques and collection of information;
• Limited staff plus budget challenges that create barriers to using social media for situational awareness;
• Lack of policies and discussion about the use of social media for dissemination of alerts and warnings and for situational awareness; and
• Concerns about potential liabilities that are created when new technology is introduced, specifically with respect to fair representation of victims’ needs and the distribution of resources.