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Virtual Operations Support Team

Follow @CityVOST  #VOST   #SMEM 




(Skip the theory below and help NOW?)



"Congressional hearing on social-media value during disasters"

segment2 - segment3 SMEM, VOST, crowdsourcing, mapping


"Director of FEMA - Value of Social Media during disasters"



"Communication is Aid"


Why Virtual Operations are important...

      Testimonial by an Emergency Manager








Key Benefits of Social Media In Support Of Emergency Mgmt (excerpted from ICS-42)
(Consider watching the videos contained in the Business-case section of the course. And here's a Better Practices .pdf.)

  • Saving lives through rapid communication.  
  • Communicating more effectively, more directly and with more constituents.
  • Building situation awareness.
  • Responding to new, incorrect or conflicting information.
  • Building community resilience through prevention, mitigation, and preparedness efforts by the promotion of government participation and building mutual trust in the community.
  • Fostering transparency and accountability.
  • Reducing call volume (wired and cell) to call centers (non-emergency and emergency).






CityVOST !    (Virtual Team)


Helpful Skills (one or more):  Texting, Calling, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, GoogleDocs, Mapping, PBwiki, Graphics.


Concept:  We are recruiting, training, and certifying some of our 'digital Christians' as 'Virtual Operations Support Team'... ie, ready & willing volunteers to help ONLINE during an emergency.  (Here's a great list of social-media tips:  "What To Do In An Emergency".  Moreover, here's RedElm's VOST template for action.)


Think of our VOST team as a 'social-media strike force' = digital team with various digital specialties... eg, Twitter or Facebook or email or texting etc.


  • VOST Leader (optimally, the Vost Leader should be onsite at the EOC, leading the virtual team in assisting the Incident PIO -- monitoring and amplifying public information.  Squelching rumors.  
    • Handles the @CityVOST account -- which is the main public account for any of our team (or others) to follow, to know the most up-to-date team-info during an emergency-activation.,
    • Determines Objectives (see below).
    • Recruits a VOST OPS OFFICER and delegates operational authority to him or her.  (See below).
    • Determines appropriate #hashtag for our communications... perhaps our generic #readycity tag.
    • Scales the size of our incident response, by reaching out to other affiliate leaders, or assigning such tasks to liaisons if available.
    • Monitors updates. 
    • Provides periodic VOST updates to the Incident PIO. 


  • VOST OPS officer -- Since our VOST leader may actually be in a physical EOC, our Ops Officer may be the primary officer in cyberspace to manage cyber operations and the accomplishment of team objectives...


  • Possible Objectives:  
    • Support the real-world PIO officer. 
      • He or she is responsible for'communications' tasks... and particularly relating to the Christian network in the incident city.  For example, we might help communicate to churches/ministries, and solicit damage-report feedback from churches/ministries.   Or manage the designated Facebook page for PUBLIC incident interactions.  Or 'amplify' the PIO's primary message (or help manage rumor-control) via Twitter, Facebook and other social-media platforms.
    • Support the real-world Planning Section... 
      • Resource Unit -- tracking personnel and their role-assignments... on Form 203 (web version)
      • Situation Unit -- (could be comprised of many digi-workers... Updating our leaders/OpsOfficers by monitoring the situation via the web, updating incident map-dots, fielding church-damage reports etc.  Communicating important info to real-world Leaders & Ops Officer via tweets to the Situation Screen.
      • Documentation Unit -- helping document incident items... perhaps especially items found online... news articles, videos, etc.
      • Demobilization Unit -- helping plan for winding down the current incident involvement,  preparing for Next Steps, etc.
    • Provide virtual 'buddies' ...
      • For the real-world incident team, as needed.
      • Or walk alongside of real-world victim/survivor families.  Remember they're often without internet access, and may greatly appreciate regular phone/texting contact with a virtual worker who has great access to the internet and to current emergency info.


Please help!    If YOU would like to fill one of the roles above, you may volunteer (for as much or as little time as you have)VOST_Getting_Started.



Training & Additional Reading:













Below, is the twitter-feed from #SMEM, the seemingly generally accepted social-media tag for Social Media Emergencies tweets.  Cool.








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