Social Media Training for Disaster Preparation

Even though social media tools have the potential to make positive contributions to disaster relief and recovery efforts, training is seldom provided to citizens on how to use these technologies in times of disasters. While the younger-generation may not need such training, the non-digital natives and the elderly (who are often less nimble during times of crises) need training on how to use these tools. Below are three types of training that citizens might desire:

  1. Social media basics: Basic social media training is necessary; given the fact all citizens haven’t adopted social media tools yet. Also, these seminars can be offered as a webinar format to encourage busy citizens to attend the training sessions online and follow up the sessions by listening to the recorded session.
  2. Advanced social media use: While most citizens are familiar with social media tools such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, most are not familiar with advanced social media tools, such as GIS and crowdmapping, which are especially useful for disaster recovery efforts. Although these technologies are developed for non-tech savvy use and typically do not require advanced technical skills, they require citizens to have some knowledge, if they want to fully utilize the functionalities. These technologies are typically created by ‘technology volunteer groups’ who help during disaster recovery efforts. Communities may want to partner up with these volunteer groups/organizations to learn technical skills.
  3. Emergency response training: Social media platforms afford us the opportunity to train citizens in emergency response tactics and practices. Citizens who are not hurt during a disaster can step up to help and leverage technology to speed up response efforts.

What kind of training is necessary or desirable for citizens to be effective disaster recovery volunteers? How should these training be provided and how can they reach out citizens who really need social media training?

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