92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 2:00 PM
An Update on NWS Use of Social Media
Room 356 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Michael J. Hudson, NOAA/NWS, Kansas City, MO; and R. C. Jones, D. Billingsley, D. Manning, C. Pieper, D. Jones, D. Carpenter, D. Moore, B. S. Mabe, M. Gerber, P. K. Pickard, W. Levine, T. Ross, and C. Sisko

Science and technology have allowed meteorologists to make great strides in the detection and warning of environmental threats. As the events of 2011 have shown, effective communication of these warning messages remains a significant challenge. A recent survey by the American Red Cross1 shows that 74 percent of Americans expect response agencies to monitor and respond to social media calls for help within an hour after an emergency. Social media also offer an opportunity for the National Weather Service (NWS) to achieve a higher response to its standard suite of alerts and warnings, by crowd-sourcing information and reports about hazardous weather events which help people personalize their threat2 and motivate action.

Social media offer tremendous opportunities to expand the distribution and personalization of warnings. Rather than trying to convince the public to adjust to the way scientists communicate, we must adapt to the way the public communicates by leveraging the tools that people use on a daily basis. Using social media allows NWS to more fully engage the public as well as key NWS partners supporting public safety.

The challenge that social media present is how involved members of the NWS's Integrated Warning Team can become in terms of entering the social media “conversation.” They must balance the public's desire for personalized on-the-spot forecasts with the reality of increased workload during high-impact weather and a mission that does not include this level of individualized support.

The NWS Emerging Technologies Integrated Work Team has evaluated and made recommendations that have paved the path forward for NWS to begin using social media. NWS launched experimental Facebook pages in 2011 and has recently engaged in prototype work within Twitter. This presentation will offer an update on NWS efforts in social media, including successes, lessons learned, and plans for the future.

1Source: American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.94aae335470e233f6cf911df43181aa0/?vgnextoid=6bb5a96d0a94a210VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD

2Source: KOCO-TV http://www.koco.com/r/27701097/detail.html

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