Twitter Emergency Management

A huge winter storm moved across the Midwest this week, leaving areas from Dallas/Fort Worth to Chicago and over to the Northeast covered with ice and snow. With blizzard conditions reported in areas of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Illinois, driving conditions got worse and drivers found themselves stranded along major thoroughfares. Conditions were so bad that a number of interstates were closed from Oklahoma to Missouri to Kansas.

Tuesday night, the Department of Emergency Management in Oklahoma issued to Civil Emergency Message to stranded drivers along Oklahoma highways, advising motorists to stay warm, conserve fuel, and to dial 911 if they are stranded. I’ve seen these messages before but the message issued last night contained something new.

If you are on Twitter, you can tweet your information to @OKEM.

Twitter has increasingly become a form of media to express weather conditions or traffic. Follow any media personality from a local news station, emergency management location, or even a school district account and you’ll find that more of these are embracing Twitter as a means to get information out to the public. School closings, road conditions, and even National Weather Service warnings are becoming something that is seen often on various Twitter accounts.

This means that Twitter is being seen more and more as a legitimate means of communication and not just a way to update the world on what you’re reading or having for lunch. If the OKEM is accepting Twitter as a preferred means of communication – and I’m sure other agencies will follow. I thought of some ways we may see agencies using Twitter in the future.

Police & fire departments can send out Twitter updates for extreme situations – like hostage events or even terrorist threats or DM the police department with tips about unsolved crimes.

School districts can use twitter to update on a number of different issues. Since a lot of students are on Twitter, you can send @ replies to students or even DMs to notify students and parents about impending weather service warnings or any dangerous situations in the area that could affect your children.

National Weather Service could take advantage of Twitter’s growing popularity by actively finding users in locations that have imminent warnings. Imagine being at a movie with friends and getting a text notification that there is a tornado warning – instead of being completely unaware.

Twitter, long seen as just a marketing or “friending” trend, does have the potential to keep us up to date. While Twitter will never replace traditional 911 services how do you see other types of emergency management or alert systems being used to update citizens on potential problems?

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AccuConference | Back Operations

Back Operations

Never underestimate the impact of back operations, especially as it pertains to your bottom-line. The decisions you make with your back operations will slim down your overhead expenses and streamline your business. Your front-line customer service is important, but they rely on your back operations to look good.

There is increased pressure for companies to go green. It can be a challenge to stream-line operations and save your company money while maintaining high environmental standards. A little does a lot, so here are a couple suggestions that we have worked for us. These are similar to the tips featured in our newsletter, but we wanted to elaborate more here:

Have your front and back operations use less paper. At our office we have a recycling container within ten paces of every desk. They are bright blue so you can’t miss them. The proximity of the cans makes it tempting to “shoot hoops” with paper-basket-balls and -airplanes. But if your employees are having fun recycling then that’s not a bad thing. In order for a system to work, everyone needs to be on board. We’ve also implemented paperless invoicing for our clients. We now send secure email attachments as PDF’s with all applicable billing information. No more stamps, envelopes, or paper. That being said, we still send the occasional letter in the mail, but we prefer to do everything online. We also send electronic emails too (because a mailing list to over 20,000 people can use a lot of paper). There is no reason why companies shouldn’t push hard to have their customers switch to online services. Not only will you save paper costs (and the environment) but your man power will significantly drop because everything will be done automatically and your back operations will feel better.

If you need a few more ideas, then here are some suggestions. First, implement a two-sided print policy for all inter-office documents. In addition, eliminate unnecessary pages such as cover sheets and tracking pages. Beside your photocopier store a box for recycling. When possible, reuse this bin of paper by cutting the sheets into smaller notepads and using them at your desk. You can also reuse this paper when you do “test prints.” Find a supplier of low-cost paper that you can integrate into other parts of your back operations… whether it is letterhead, napkins, or recycled boxes. Lastly, encourage a “sober-second-thought” rule, where you ask your employees to think twice before printing anything to make sure it’s absolutely necessary.

It won’t be long before you start seeing an ROI in your back operations. Paper costs a lot less to dispose than it does to purchase.

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