After talking with Damian McLoughlin, our DEM Information Services Manager, I wanted to share the text below re: DRAFT Social Media Guide. Like all organizations, we are seeking that right balance between the best use of these new tools and how to appropriately integrate their reality into our operations in a safe, secure and common sense manner that supports our communications efforts. From a public information officer perspective, I find social media increasingly essential for both communicating and as a force multiplier for gaining and spreading situational awareness. For us, the unique gap these efforts fill is sharing information directly, in a wide manner, and in a less formal path than a traditional press release or through reliance on third parties to distro. Thinking about it, I'll cut this line of thought short since I am by no means the first, most qualified or sole source to hammer away on the need and utility of social media. There are so many other people out there who articulate its need and attributes better than I can. Simply put, these tools are a reality and we are trying to use them in a smart and appropriate manner.
In integrating new web-based applications and pathways, we are hesitant to fall into a "shiny new object" syndrome and are mindful to ensure that we select message pathways appropriate for our message, our audience(s), etc. We have not found the perfect answer, but we have made and effort to confront associated challenges, from an emergency management perspective.
We approached social media as a joint effort between our public information office, operations and information technology staff. We are lucky to work closely together to find solutions that strike a balance between technical and individual use concerns. While I have worked to research and draft social media policies that address information flow, handling, and theory of use in a general social media standard operating procedures document to which individual sites are/will be addressed in annexes (...thought is that it is more important to capture "concepts" of use than bank all use on an individual social media tool as new ones spring up, fall away or as their use vacillates), we have worked closely with our IT to develop a DRAFT standard use policy to ensure it is consistent both with our web-use policy and addresses individual use and business case procedures.
I am happy to share any of the drafts with you or to discuss how we, at least, approach the use/integration of social media into our operations. We have even spent time thinking about how it might be integrated into operational response to bridge some of the issues related to the now, real-world co-location of information gathering, writing unit and dissemination unit actions addressed by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) structures... but I don't want to get too "weedsy" here. If you want to get copies of some of these docs, want to provide some input or would like to give an extra set of eyes on what we have in development from an emergency management perspective, just shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to share, talk and listen.
All this is leading up to sharing the top-level document (below) that Damian and IT have been working which I think is a clear, concise and solid approach to meeting the challenge of social media integration as a business case into emergency management in an IT-friendly manner. We thought you might find it interesting. Of course, I must caveat that this is a working document. It might change. But, I think it is a really solid start for a common sense approach and if you have any input or thoughts, again, just contact me!
DRAFT Social Media Guide
This document outlines the guidelines for access to Social Media Internet sites. Social media sites are currently blocked from access by the Department's Internet filtering rules. Access is granted on a business case need as outlined in the process below.
These guidelines are a detailed extrapolation of the Department's Systems Access and Acceptable Use, of the Department's Cyber Security Policies (ref).
Where no specific policy or guideline exists, employees are governed by the Department's Acceptable Use Guidelines and should take the most prudent action possible. Consult with your manager or supervisor if you are uncertain.
The use of Social Media sites (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc…) for communication with the public and other agencies must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. The absence of, or lack of explicit reference to a specific site does not limit the extent of the application of this policy. Users will abide by the following rules of conduct.
1. All interaction, correspondence, postings and communication with social media sites representing the Department must be conducted with professionalism and courtesy at all times. You are a representative of the department even if you are accessing the site from your own personal computer on your own time.
Anything posted online is public information, conduct yourself with the understanding your supervisor, colleagues, general public and customers will read your comments.
Do not post or link any materials that are defamatory, harassing or indecent.
Do not promote personal (non-departmental) projects or endorse commercial brands.
Respect third party copyrights.
Misconduct or behavior deemed inappropriate may be grounds for personnel action.
An agreement must be signed by all “owners” or creators of Department social media sites. This agreement must be in place prior to the creation of the site and submitted to and approved by OIS.
The Department’s Public Information Officer must be notified when new content is posted on the site.
Social Media sites are restricted by the Department's Internet filtering rules. Access is granted on the basis of a business case need.
1. Submit a written request to the Department's office of information services (OIS) for access to Social Media sites (email is sufficient).
1.1. Requests must be approved by your division director (an affirmative email from the director is sufficient).
1.2. Submission should include answers to the following:
1.2.1. What sites are being requested for access?
1.2.2. What is the purpose of access? Is it for reading content of others or posting content as a representative of the department?
1.2.3. Who will be the single point of contact (POC) or owner of the content?
1.2.4. What tools or utilities will be used for managing content? Do they:
require local installation?
have licensing requirements?
2. OIS will review the request with DOLA Public Informatoin Officer (PIOs)
3. Upon approval for access, the POC will be notified and an orientation / policy review will be conducted with OIS. An override account will be created for use by the POC. This account can be used by the POC at the internet filter block page to continue on, to what would normally be, blocked Social Media sites.
4. The POC will be required to sign this document as an acknowledgment of understanding of the governing policies and guidelines.