First Responders and Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate Launch a Virtual Social Media Working Group

Article ID: 573906

Released: 28-Feb-2011 2:25 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Homeland Security's Science And Technology Directorate

  • Credit: FEMA

    Coast Guard officers review a hurricane situation report. Smart phones like this one offer public safety and homeland security personnel a simple way to interact with the public.

Newswise — The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's First Responder Communities of Practice* recently launched a Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG), comprised of first responders and homeland security professionals from various disciplines, localities, sectors, and government agencies across the country.

The VSMWG will provide recommendations to the emergency preparedness, response, and homeland security communities on the safe and sustainable use of social media technologies before, during, and after emergencies. Representing the fields of emergency management, law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, public health, public utilities, and local government, the VSMWG strives to be a dynamic voice in the social media and public safety arena, incorporating the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders. VSMWG members will collaborate via virtual meetings to identify and discuss responder issues and challenges with social media. They will look at myriad issues, such as standards and policies, and will provide recommended guidance on using social media in public safety. The working group may engage with subject matter experts from different sectors to work towards resolutions to these issues.

The First Responder Communities of Practice* platform will serve as the primary location for the VSMWG to conduct activities, share developments, and connect with other homeland security professionals regarding the value of social media for emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. The group will play an active role in establishing the Make America Safer through Social Media Community on the First Responder Communities of Practice as a national resource for social media and public safety-related information and best practices.

Members of the VSMWG were selected by DHS First Responder Technologies (R-Tech) program based on their experience in leveraging social media technologies to pursue the missions of their agencies. Many VSMWG members have served as speakers, trainers, and subject matter experts at major homeland security-related workshops, roundtables, and conferences on the topic of social media. To collaborate with the Virtual Social Media Working Group, help grow the First Responder Communities of Practice repository of social media best practices and tools, or participate in forward-thinking discussions with others engaged in this field, join the Make America Safer through Social Media Community at

*The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate First Responder Communities of Practice Website is a vetted, professional networking, project collaboration, and resource-sharing platform for first responders and other personnel working in homeland security capacities. The site is focused on emergency response, preparedness, resiliency, planning, management, and homeland security-related matters. Site members can network with others in their fields and areas of interest; join or start new communities to collaborate “virtually” with others through wikis, blogs, discussion boards, real-time chat, and internal Website e-mail; find and share resources and contacts; store and access documents; and stay connected through e-mail notification of site activities. In addition to managing the site, the First Responder Communities of Practice Website also reports on the emergency response community’s broader efforts to use social media to improve disaster preparedness and resilience. Go to to request membership.

The latest articles from the R-Tech Bulletin are posted at This link also provides access to past articles, as well as the opportunity to subscribe to receive future articles. The R-Tech Bulletin is part of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responder Technologies (R-Tech) outreach program to federal, tribal, state, and local first responders. R-Tech’s mission is to protect America against terrorism, disasters, and all other hazards by providing first responder solutions for high priority capability gaps due to technology and assisting first responders through rapid prototyping, technical assistance and information sharing.

For more information, please visit R-Tech’s Website,


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