After his well-received speech to the American Red Cross’ “Emergency Social Data Summit” yesterday, I had a chance to interview FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
I asked him about the role of social media in disasters, how he has benefited from having (and tweeting on) his own Twitter account, and what he wants to accomplish during the upcoming National Preparedness Month in September. The four-and-half-minute video is below.
My videography does leave a little bit to be desired (the shakiness was not the result of a sudden earthquake in D.C. though there were some powerful storms in the area, and there is also short break in the interview after the first question as I fiddle with a sticky Flip camera button. (I am a little out of practice having not shot a video for the blog in 7 months.)
In the video, which was shot in the kitchen of the Red Cross’ Hall of Service, Fugate says:
* social media provides FEMA and other emergency management agencies the chance to get 2-way input from disaster survivors to better shape response to their needs in a crisis. He notes FEMA is trying to offer emergency information to the public in “flexible” formats that match how they will be using it before and during a disaster (such as on their smartphones).
* his Twitter account @CraigatFEMA (and he does his own “tweets) helps “get rid of the mystique of being an administrator of a federal agency. There always seem to be these barriers between you and interacting with people everyday.”
* for National Preparedness Month, he wants Americans to do at least one thing: create an emergency communications plan for their family. Fugate says that sometimes authorities make preparedness too complex and believes developing a family plan — described on most emergency management websites — is a good disaster readiness “first step”. (He also slips in some nice words about this blog in this answer, which were totally unsolicited but very much appreciated.)
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate talks about social media, preparedness and the public.
(UPDATE: Ed O’Keefe who writes the interesting “Federal Eye” blog for The Washington Post was at the Crisis Data event and just did a post about the Fugate interview here.)