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Social Media Can Help and Harm During Emergencies

Influx of Information Can Cause Issues

According to the Daily Dot, our awareness of violent events has concurred with the rise of social media. As these channels become more ubiquitous, everyone is empowered to become a source for information. While this can help spread the word at the onset of an emergency, it can also hinder the response to an ongoing incident by adding confusing and incorrect information into the conversation.

Such was the case during an active shooter incident at UCLA in May of 2016. The Washington Post reported about misinformation spread through social media and traditional news outlets. Students were alerted through the school’s official notification system, but access to their phones meant they were able to look for additional information on other channels such as Facebook, Twitter and local news websites. This led to rumors about the number of shooters and their locations on campus that increased the fear and anxiety caused by the situation.

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Don’t Confuse Facts and Rumors

This isn’t the first time social media has caused an issue when responding to active shooter incidents either. During the San Bernardino shooting in December of 2015, the Press Enterprise reported similar challenges faced by law enforcement. While some information was useful in providing updates about areas that should be avoided, again rumors sprung up that added to the confusion. Despite more information being available, it’s increasingly more difficult to fact check that information’s accuracy during an emergency.

Similar issues occurred years earlier during the 2012 theater shooting in Colorado. People took to social media and law enforcement were forced to dig through distracting misinformation and hoaxes, and men with names similar to that of the shooter found themselves harassed by people who did not have the proper information about the event.

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Topics: Whitepaper, emergency communication, social media

FETC 2017 Highlights Latest K-12 Security Technology

Visit Singlewire at the Conference

Singlewire Software will be at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) from January 24-27, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Singlewire will be at Wahsega Labs’ booth 812 in the North/South Building of the Orange County Convention Center.

Singlewire and Wahsega will be showcasing innovative solutions for mass communication in K-12 buildings. As security continues to be a top priority in K-12, finding cost-effective tools that help keep everyone safe is critical for decision makers. During the conference, attendees can see how audio products from Wahsega Labs, combined with the power of InformaCast software from Singlewire, provides schools with a solid foundation for mass notification to share critical information in the event of an emergency.

Learn more about safety solutions in K-12

Learn and Engage with Others

FETC offers hundreds of educational sessions with experts discussing the latest relevant K-12 topics. With speakers from a variety of backgrounds, the full sessions’ list provides an easy way to pick the topics that are right for you.

In addition to Singlewire, the exhibition hall will be filled with the newest K-12 technologies revolutionizing schools and districts. See what companies will be there and plan your stops by examining the exhibitor list

You can also stay engaged with the event by following FETC on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and look for updates on channels from Singlewire.

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Topics: Conferences, Wahsega Labs, FETC

Clear Communication Means Contacting People on the Right Channel

More Channels, More Opportunities

It can be easy to think of communicating with someone as a 1:1 task. You send one message to one device, in one format. But we live in a world where people can be reached in an almost unlimited number of ways. Email, text messages and social media have expanded the way we communicate with each other. Utilizing only one form of communication can be costly, especially during emergencies.

Tools that facilitate clear communication, regardless of circumstances, make it easy to send messages in multiple formats to multiple devices. During critical situations, it’s important to get information that keeps people safe into their hands quickly. Taking time to use multiple systems can cost precious seconds when a life-threatening situation takes places.

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Consider Real-World Obstacles

During an emergency, high volume can cause congestion on cellular networks. That’s why it is important to utilize multiple channels to reach people. For example, people in Boston experienced challenges during the marathon bombing attack in 2013. This issue arose when everyone used the network at the same time. This included the people in the area trying to make outgoing calls, and people outside the area trying to reach people inside it. This taxed the network and made it difficult for calls to get through.

Service providers advised people use text messaging and emails so emergency calls could get through. Phone calls can jam a network when too many are taking place at the same time. However, text messages and emails have a better chance of finding an opening for delivery when a message is sent.

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Topics: Whitepaper, emergency communication

Testing Emergency Communication Tools Ensures Effectiveness

Know Your Systems Work

Many solutions are currently available that promise getting critical information into the hands of people who need it during an emergency. However, simply setting up the tool does not guarantee it will work as advertised.

Testing regularly helps ensure successful deployment when they need to be used in real-world situations. Creating a testing plan that works in conjunction with emergency communication strategies helps build familiarity throughout organizations. This can assist in avoiding costly mistakes. 

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Errors Can Hinder Clarity

Even on the largest scale, errors can prevent smooth deployment of emergency communications. This was an issue the French government encountered during the terrorist attack in Nice in July of 2016. In anticipation of the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament being held in France, the French government launched an emergency notification app to keep people informed should an incident occur. However, according to the Huffington Post, during the attack, people using the app did not receive any information until nearly three hours after the attack commenced. The app, which uses geolocation to determine who to send alerts to, told users in Nice there were no incidents occurring during the attack.

A similar issue occurred in Kalamazoo, Michigan during an active shooter event in February of 2016. While an Uber driver went on a shooting spree around the county, the Western Michigan University security team failed to send out an alert to students through its channels. Following the incident, the university president said he would be reviewing the guidelines for how they address these kind of situations to keep students informed.

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Topics: Whitepaper, emergency communication

Singlewire Software

Singlewire Software develops and supports innovative voice applications centered around secure, fast, and reliable mass notification capabilities. More →

Singlewire Software
2601 West Beltline Highway, Ste 510
Madison, WI 53713
Phone: +01 608 661 1140
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