Lloyd Colston

Lloyd Colston is an emergency manager in Oklahoma with an interest in disaster communications using amateur radio and social media. He is a strong advocate for Citizen preparedness, a moderator for the largest emergency management list on Yahoogroups, a Public Information Officers’ list, a HazMat list, and participant in a number of social media initiatives for Emergency Managers.

With a degree in journalism and media experience, Colston brings a unique blend of skills to the emergency management profession, including experience in disasters when various social media were used to get the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make the right decision. You can follow him on Twitter @KC5FM and http://www.facebook.com/wx5em

Lets Talk Tools

On March 26, 2013, in Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

SMEMBack in the early days of social media in emergency management (SMEM), early adopters adapted based on their favorite tools. Then the tool ended, e.g., Timely.IS. Then the scramblers, especially those who lacked a plan for social media engagement, raced to find a new tool to replace the old tool.  Even others developed multiple “favorite” tools to do multiple jobs.

Is it over? No. People still are looking for tools and new tools are being developed to help with new platforms of social media.

Looking at tools today may be necessary, but only after one develops the need for using social media. This article focuses on tools that can foster and forge team building and communication. Continue reading »

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Who remembers CONELRAD?

On March 19, 2013, in Alerts & Warnings 101, Emergency Alert System, Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

Yes, the image above has two triangles. Otherwise known as “Civil Defense” symbols, they are images of the Cold War.

CONELRAD: Radio meets the Civil Defense describes the two radio channels folks would tune to listen for news and updates in the “event of an actual emergency”.

CONELRAD became the Emergency Alert System and the triangles on the AM radios on the dash of the automobiles became Cold War Relics.

That was then and this is now. Has it improved?  Today, there is competition for the message. The emergency manager is challenged with getting the word out to folks listening to their MP3 player inside a house with the windows shut and the vacuum running.

No longer does the emergency manager have two frequencies upon which to place his warning message. The emergency manager must be aware of ALL the methods is customer uses to get news and information and, yes, even entertainment.

When the emergency manager hears that the customer wants him to be on Social Media, which one of them should he use? Does he dare omit Twitter to favor Google+? Does he simply say “I’m on Facebook. If you want the message, tune there.”?

This is why warning professionals encourage folks to have THREE ways to get information. At any given time, all three will be working or two may not.

What three are you using?


Do I need to use social media?

On January 28, 2013, in Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

At the recent Oklahoma Emergency Management Conference breakout session on social media, that burning question was asked.

The short answer given was “No”.  No one HAS to use social media.  Nevertheless, 69% of people surveyed by the Red Cross said they expected public safety officials to respond to questions and pleas from the public on social media. Continue reading »

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Are you really getting the message?

On January 2, 2013, in Alerts & Warnings 101, Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

James Spann, a popular Alabama meteorologist and member of the popular online program “WeatherBrains“, posted recently about the popular social media site Facebook — and its shortcomings in the severe weather alerting process.

He has noted how the warning processes must get better.  At one point, he called for every outdoor warning device (the “tornado” siren) to be burned.  He notes that too many people rely on sirens before taking action.

People need THREE ways to get weather warnings.

There are at least two providers – MyStateUSA and EmergencyEmail.org offer nationwide alerting service for free. Additionally, providers such as cel.ly offer the ability for groups to set up their own warning processes, as Craig’s Tech Blog discussed a few months back.

However, I have written on AWARE (here and here) that we should recognize and accept that social media (as anything technological) will have flaws.  In other words, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, have all gone down at one point or another.  Even sirens break.

More than one avenue for warnings is necessary. Three ways of getting severe weather warnings is the only option for the prepared citizen.  Social media, even Facebook, can serve in this area, of course. Even the trusty Amateur Radio can come to play here.

What are your three ways to get severe weather warnings?  Is the All-Hazards Weather Radio one of them?

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When Seconds Count: The Challenge of Slow Social Media Alerts

On December 1, 2011, in Social Media, by with Altus Emergency Management

As readers will know, I have been a huge fan of social media when it is used as part of a plan in part of the toolbox (I most recently talked about it here). As a stand-alone tool, it has shown value and failure.

A 2009 study from Germany, titled A Measurement-driven Analysis of Information Propagation in the Flickr Social Networktraces messages as they “propagate” around the Internet. Continue reading »