Online Social Media used for Emergency Management (SMEM) is an emergent, significant and accurate form of public participation and backchannel communication that is available for little to no cost on the Internet. While this field is still new, its uses have not yet been completely discovered or been able to completely utilize these social media tools. Currently, social media has been used in emergency management but in limited ways. Disasters such as the Bastrop wildfires has shown that social media played a role by providing citizens with information that was more local than what local news media was able to provide. To improve how Emergency Management professionals are using social media they need functional tools that communicate with the general public during disasters and mass emergency events. Citizens can also benefit with receiving communications from their local Emergency Management agency by being provided with information on how to be disaster ready.
There are several goals for the development of this application:
1. Develop a multi-platform app for any Emergency Management Agency to engage their citizens in SMEM.
2. Create a way for Emergency Managers to notify their residents of impending danger or emergencies via sms or through social media outlets. Make this an opt-in service.
3. Create a dynamic shelter map so that an EMC may activate a shelter and the end user may view the shelter on a map from within the map, recieving information on the shelter location in relation to their location.
4. Create interactive home safety, pet safety and work safety kit checklists allowing the end user to check off items as they are purchased.
5. Integrate "safety tip of the day" feature to app on the homepage
6. Integrate a map with locations of nearby fire departments to the end user that is geo-located and will pull up information of fire station closest to user.
7. Allow user to reach the website and social media accounts for the organization through the app directly.
An example of the functionality of the app is the one developed by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency called Ready Georgia (http://ready.ga.gov/mobileapp). With the development of this app it will benefit the SMEM community by being open-source in order to allow for any Emergency Management Agency to brand and customize the content contained within the app to the local population they serve.