Weather Channel promotes White House's hashtag system for emergencies
January 23, 2014
Last week the White House announced a new system of standardized hashtags to improve disaster response and recovery efforts, and The Weather Channel is now promoting the hashtags to expand its reach.
The hashtags were announced at the second annual White House Safety Datapalooza on Jan. 14 along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Energy. The three emergency hashtags announced were #GotFuel, #NoFuel and #PowerLineDown, and The Weather Channel will be promoting them on TV, online, on mobile and on social media.
“The Weather Channel already distributes more weather alerts to the public than any other media outlet in the country, and we take the mission of keeping the public safe before, during and after severe weather emergencies very seriously,” said Bryson Koehler, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at The Weather Company, Atlanta. “We work every day to find new innovations that will help us raise severe weather awareness in this country.
“Just as we have seen with the winter or tropical storm hashtags that we use, these hashtags – #GotFuel #NoFuel and #PowerLineDown – will enable local citizens to report important emergency information across social media during severe weather,” he said.
“In turn, this information will be used by survivors, first responders, FEMA, DOE and utility companies to improve disaster response and recovery efforts. In general the more detail known, the faster, more effective response can be given, so focusing the conversation around an event is key.”
The White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Energy all decided to create standardized hashtags to provide a better way for consumers to report emergency information.
The three hashtags specifically address downed power lines or whether a gas station has fuel. The hashtags will be used by FEMA, the Department of Energy, survivors, first responders, state and local officials and utility companies.
The Weather Channel will also be promoting the hashtags across channels to help inform consumers before, during and after a weather emergency.
By creating standardized hashtags for these emergencies, the White House enables consumers to easily share and obtain information that could help others during a disaster.
The move makes a lot of sense in a time when most consumers have their smartphones nearby at all times and spend much of their time on smartphones visiting social media sites or apps. During an emergency, smartphones are often the only way a consumer can connect to the rest of the world, and standardized hashtags will streamline that process.
The White House Safety Datapalooza also revealed a few other ways that the government plans to leverage mobile for the greater good.
FEMA is also leveraging another feature of smartphones to improve disaster relief: geolocation. FEMA and The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency are developing a tool called GeoQ that crowdsources geo-tagged photos of disaster-affected areas to get a better idea of the damage during a disaster.
This tool will allow the government to better respond to regions in need and improve recovery efforts.
Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a “Safer Products App Challenge” that asks citizens to create applications and tools that help raise awareness of product reports submitted through SaferProducts.gov and of consumer product recalls. THE CPSC plans to announce the winners in the summer.
Similarly, the National Institute of Justice announced its own app challenge: “Ultra-High-Speed Apps: Using Current Technology to Improve Criminal Justice Operations.” The winner will receive $150,000, and submissions are due Feb. 14.
“We know how important mobile has been during severe weather events,” Mr. Koehler said. “Many times a mobile device is the only form of working communications in a household.
“Not only is it a critical means of getting information, but also it is extremely helpful in disseminating information,” he said. “Now mobile consumers can — and do — tweet or post an immediate comment or picture from their mobile devices.
“So this partnership The Weather Channel has announced with the White House, FEMA and the Department of Energy encourages peoples to share information and inform their friends of where a power line is down or where gas might be available during an emergency.”
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York
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