Posts Tagged ‘emergency preparedness’

PNC/MLA Coverage – Day 1

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Today was day one of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association conference in Portland, OR.

Are you interested in the goings-on of public health discourse (Lawrence Wallack), the selective publication of drug trials (Erick Turner), perspectives about library research, and paper presentations about emergency preparedness, improving health literacy for rural elderly and Open Science?

All is available from the perspective of my notes on Google Docs, not necessarily 100% accurate, coherent or complete.

Social Media in Health & Medicine (and Reference? Emergencies?)

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

It was a pleasure to participate in Highlight Health‘s hosting of Social Media in Health and Medicine, Medlibs Round 2.7. Thank you for an excellent compilation and presentation, Walter!

I’ve been talking about social media a lot here recently, I have just a few more updates related to social media then I’ll move on to other subjects.

Twitter as Government Agency Reference Source

I am encouraged by the step the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has taken by announcing they will monitor a hashtag, #findsamhsa, to assist people who are seeking information from their numerous helpful pamphlets and online resources. So far I haven’t seen where people have used the hashtag except in retweets, but the agency’s willingness to try this way to engage in assisting health information seekers is commendable. I’d suggest they include a blurb about it on their social media page though so others will know about this service after this scrolls off the immediate horizon from their Twitter posts. We already know how I feel about #pubmed so I won’t rehash that hashtag.

Increased Social Media Use in Emergencies – 74% of Those Posting Expect Help in 1 Hour

Everyone needs to review the report of a Red Cross survey released this week about the usage of social media in emergencies. Of course, the first step should always be to call your emergency services number (911 in the United States) but what if the phone lines are down? 1 in 5 of the 1,058 adult participants would try to get help via email, websites or social media.

What was particularly notable are the expectations people have when they use social media in this way, bold emphasis mine

Web users also have clear expectations about how first responders should be answering their requests. The survey showed that 69 percent said that emergency responders should be monitoring social media sites in order to quickly send help—and nearly half believe a response agency is probably already responding to any urgent request they might see.

And the survey respondents expected quick response to an online appeal for help—74 percent expected help to come less than an hour after their tweet or Facebook post.


More web users say they get their emergency information from social media than from a NOAA weather radio, government website or emergency text message system. One in five social media users also report posting eyewitness accounts of emergency events to their accounts.

The National Weather Service has taken a step in this direction by encouraging the use of the #wxreport hashtag for severe weather events… but the reality is you can’t preassign a hashtag to be used in an emergency. People will inherently create their own individual ones, the local social media community will reach a hive mind consensus on what it is, and onward it goes. From my perspective this is why agency social media channels need to build relationships so they are aware of who their audience is and what they are discussing, so in an emergency the agency will know what specific hashtag will be most useful to convey information to those who need it.

NWS & Twitter: Tweet your #wxreport; Time again for #pubmed?

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Edit: They may want to reconsider shortening to just #wx and including state initials, check out how Twitter was used to cover a tornado in Arkansas on April 30th using #arwx & especially the critique of Facebook-to-Twitter auto posts.

I think announcements from the National Weather Service (NWS) are about the only time we can read information in ALL CAPS and not feel like we’re being yelled at.

The all caps version is at, but the fun usage of red ALL CAPS is at complete with regular writing encouraging you to report significant weather events in your area on Twitter.

The reason they are exploring this as of April 15th until the end of 2010 is Twitter now has geotagging capabilities available to identify where you are located.

If you’re a little concerned about privacy and don’t want to turn on Twitter geotagging (as I haven’t), the site gives you information on both how to enable geotagging and tweet weather events in your area, or how to tweet to report a significant weather event (what that means is covered too) by using this format

#wxreport  WW  your location WW  your significant weather report

Following this format for Snowpocalypse 2008 that wrecked our Christmas, I would tweet a conservative

#wxreport  WW  N Seattle, WA WW  Local roads flooding w/1’snow+now rain!

or something along those lines. If things were really crazy I might consider turning on geotagging to allow for more detail though since that allows for #wxreport your significant weather report

I’m excited to see a government agency experimenting with the use of Twitter and a publicized, searchable hashtag (the #wxreport part of the tweet ) to enable data to better serve the public and their local weather forecasting offices. I hope it goes well for them and that the spammers stay far away from it & not wreck the data as they did with #pubmed feedback although that seems to have died down dramatically since January.

Is it time to try #pubmed again now that @ncbi_pubmed is an official National Library of Medicine social media channel? Are they listening? What other government or local agencies can do something similar? What can be done to filter out the noise?