What do you get when you mix old-style “common man on the street” politicking with today’s hottest social media tool, then add a dash of nearly twenty inches of snow?
Mayor Booker’s Twitter feed has turned into a veritable EOC resource request list and public information bonanza. As Newark residents tweet about problems associated with what’s been dubbed as the Snowpocalypse, Mayor Booker has been personally responding and directing resources throughout Newark to assist those in need. Whether it’s digging out a bus, delivering diapers or sending snowplows to streets that haven’t yet been cleared, Mayor Booker has been on the front lines of snow removal and responding to the storm that has crippled New York City and delivered a ton of bad press to the doorstep of New Jersey Governor Christie.
What does this mean for us? Mayor Booker is just the first in a string of politicians who will use the media’s infatuation with social media to garner good press for their actions. The public will see the value of being able to directly talk to their elected officials, and will use that “hotline” to get things accomplished. I won’t pretend to understand the political side of this equation; but I do see where this is going for public information officers and emergency management and response agencies. Residents are being primed to reach out to the government in case of emergency via social media.
We already knew that folks today believe that calls for help via social media should be seen and responded to, but this is the next step. Actual incorporation of social media monitoring and response based on those social media calls. The expectation exists, and now a proof of concept has been demonstrated. Modern emergency responders who do not respond to social media calls, especially in emergencies, are no longer on the cutting edge—and I would argue will quickly fall behind the rest of the field.
(And this is not because of any impetus in the emergency management world, but will come about solely as a result of political will. Mayor Booker is ably demonstrating the value of emergency social media to your local elected officials.)
Kudos to Mayor Booker for hitting the trifecta: using exciting new technology that the media will eat up, actually doing good in his community, and advancing the state of emergency response. It’s tough enough finding politicians who can do any one of those things.