Emergency Communication Alert for Social Media: Boston Marathon Bombings

1069 words (4 pages) Essay in Media

18/05/20 Media Reference this

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Abstract

Social media alerts have been increasing in popularity during disaster situations. On Monday April 15, 2019 at 2:49pm two bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon (Project Management Team, 2014). Three people were killed and 264 were injured in the terrorist attack (Haddow & Haddow, 2014). Over the next four days following the Boston Marathon Bombings law enforcement investigated and searched for the suspects. When the suspects were in a Watertown neighborhood there were public safety issues due the dangerous suspects and increased police presence so a shelter in place order was issued. If Twitter was used for the alert, then the alert would be limited by 160 characters and may have only said, #MediaAlert: WARNING: Shelter in place. Bombing suspect still at large. Stay indoors! #BostonStrong. If Facebook was used for a social media alert during the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, then it could provide a more comprehensive, transparent and accurate warning.

Keywords:  Boston Marathon bombings, EAS, social media, IPAWS, emergency communications

Emergency Communication Alert for Social Media: Boston Marathon Bombings 

If IPAWS and Haddow’s nine principles of successful emergency communication were used when issuing the Facebook warning, then it may have looked like the following emergency communication alert:

Shelter in Place Warning 19 APR 13

We understand that this week has been stressful and emotional for all residents in the Boston area and beyond due to the marathon bombing on Monday. At 1 am today, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in Watertown by police officers, but his brother Dzhokhar remains at large. Effective immediately, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has issued a shelter in place warning for residents in Allston, Brighton, Cambridge, Newton, Waltham, Watertown and Belmont due to increased police activity related to the manhunt for Boston Marathon Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Project Management Team, 2014). Dzhokhar is armed and dangerous. Please remain indoors and do not venture outside. Close and lock all doors and windows. Seek refuge in an interior room without many windows. Do not compromise police operations by posting photos and videos to social media. Do not “broadcast tactical positions of homes being searched” (Haddow & Haddow, 2014). If you see something or someone suspicious, then say something by calling the Boston Police Tip line at 617-555-1212. Emergency services are still available by calling 911. We need everyone to cooperate with the shelter in place warning to ensure resident safety and help capture the bombing suspect. This warning will be lifted once Dzhokhar is placed into custody and the streets are safe. Remain strong, this will be over soon. Stay tuned to local media for additional official updates. #BostonStrong

References

  • FEMA. (n.d.). Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Template: Emergency Communication Plans and IPAWS. Retrieved from Federal Emergency Management Agency: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409762245649-42bb64d7495d561cf3892b98c68186ea/TEMPLATE_Emergency%20Communications%20Plans%20and%20IPAWS_508.pdf
  • Haddow, G., & Haddow, K. (2014). Disaster Communications in a Changing Media World (2nd ed.). Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
  • Project Management Team. (2014, Dec). After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. Retrieved from National Police Foundation: https://www.policefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/after-action-report-for-the-response-to-the-2013-boston-marathon-bombings_0.pdf

IPAWS EAS Message Template

Figure 1. This is a screenshot of the IPAWS template used for creating the emergency social media alert for the Boston Marathon bombings (FEMA).

EAS Message

Emergency Alert Message

Event Code:

SIP

County Code(s):

25025

Sent time:

19 APR 2013 05:00

Expires time:

TBD

Sender name:

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)

Description:

Immediate shelter in place warning issued for the following cities in Suffolk County: Boston (Allston/Brighton), Cambridge, Newton, Waltham, Watertown and Belmont.

Instruction:

Shelter in place. Please remain inside and do not venture out. Close and lock all doors and windows. Do not compromise police operations by posting photos and videos to social media. Do not broadcast tactical positions of homes being searched. If you see something or someone suspicious, say something by calling the Boston Police Tip line at 617-555-1212.

EAS Message:

We understand that this week has been stressful and emotional for all residents in the Boston area and beyond due to the marathon bombing on Monday. At 1 am today, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in Watertown by police officers, but his brother Dzhokhar remains at large. Effective immediately, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has issued a shelter in place warning for residents in Allston, Brighton, Cambridge, Newton, Waltham, Watertown and Belmont due to increased police activity related to the manhunt for Boston Marathon Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Dzhokhar is armed and dangerous. Please remain indoors and do not venture outside. Close and lock all doors and windows. Seek refuge in an interior room without many windows. Do not compromise police operations by posting photos and videos to social media. Do not broadcast tactical positions of homes being searched. If you see something or someone suspicious, then say something by calling the Boston Police Tip line at 617-555-1212. Emergency services are still available by calling 911. We need everyone to cooperate with the shelter in place warning to ensure resident safety and help capture the bombing suspect. This warning will be lifted once Dzhokhar is placed into custody and the streets are safe. Remain strong, this will be over soon. Stay tuned to local media for additional official updates. #BostonStrong

Figure 2. This is how the emergency alert might look when formatted by the IPAWS template.

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