A Southold civic group’s plan to use social media for emergency and town communications has garnered national attention in a FEMA-sponsored contest.
Southold Voice's plan was recently selected for consideration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a contest to garner ideas for how to share the responsibility of protecting communities during disaster.
The plan suggests offering small municipalities a “how to” guide detailing how to integrate social media strategies into their operations. It also suggests a separate guide on how the private sector can help curate information via social media during emergencies.
“We’re very happy to have made it to this point and been acknowledged by FEMA,” said Joanna Lane, who is on Southold Voice's board of directors. “It gives some credibility to our cause.”
Lane said Southold Voice's is one of 188 being considered out of about 500 proposals submitted. Though there is no monetary prize associated with the contest, Lane said the winner of the contest will have its proposal published on FEMA’s website.
Lane said the group is proposing the kits because small towns in America are not necessarily familiar with such social media as Facebook and Twitter and how they could be used.
“There are very different levels of familiarity to these kinds of sites out there,” she said.
Southold Voice also met with the Southold Town Board for the first time since it has been circulating the idea through its website.
Lane said the presentation she gave at the Town Board work session Tuesday morning was well-received. She said she brought up the idea of a town-run Facebook page and gave members of the board links to sites she considered good examples of smart social media use.
“We made the point that we really need a Facebook,” she said. "They were really receptive to that.”
Lane said the next step will be for Southold Voice to meet with the town’s emergency management team to discuss social media strategies.
A winner for the FEMA contest will be selected Feb. 22. The Southold Voice proposal and all other contest entries can be viewed on the contest website.