Social Media Key to Emergency Communications

With its steady rise in popularity, social media has become a key part of emergency communications.  Local, state, and federal agencies are striving to keep up with the shift.  Experts such as Mr. Maurice J. Watkins of Wilberforce University are teaching how to effectively use these technologies.

“Federal, state, and local governments are getting involved with social media rapidly, but there is a learning curve,” says Mr. Watkins. “Most of these technologies have emerged in the last ten years.”

On May 23, Mr. Watkins represented Wilberforce University on an expert panel at the 2012 National Homeland Security Conference.  He is also scheduled to speak to the Ohio Public Safety Public Information Officers Symposium on September 12.  His presentations typically focus on basic information and planning social media presence.

“Social Media is really about engaging with the community. You can’t wait until an emergency strikes to introduce yourself online. Trust must be built – even on the Internet,” Mr. Watkins claims.

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Hurricane Isaac is moving very slowly and will drop large amounts of rain on Louisiana. A rural levee has triggered a rescue effort in Braithwaite,LA. CNN has live blog with current information shown above.

This Just In

  • New Orleans mayor imposes dusk-to-dawn curfew
  • More than 817,000 without power across 5 states
  • Isaac’s maximum sustained winds slip to 60 mph
  • Emergency crews rescue people stranded by floods

Refresh this page for the latest updates or read the full CNN story here.

[Updated 10:28 p.m. ET] [cnn-video url=]

[Updated 10:20 p.m. ET] Water that overtopped levees was trapped in Plaquemines Parish with nowhere to drain. Officials were considering intentionally breaching a levee downstream to allow some of the floodwater to flow back out of the inundated area, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

Parish President Billy Nungesser said parish officials will go out at low tide to check the back levee — a second line of defense — at the town of Braithwaite and determine where to punch holes in it. It will be Saturday, at the earliest, before crews can cut the levee open, letting water flow out into…

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Summer Research Assistant Summary

Assistant team given award for best building design

During the Month of June,  sixteen research assistants worked at the NNSA Disaster Recovery Center.  Mostly consisting of current students & recent graduates,  the assistants formed three teams that completed research support work.  

Assistant team outside a building

This work included to-scale, three-dimensional designs for virtual environments and emergency planning.  The three teams completed to-scale designs of nine Wilberforce University buildings using Google SketchUp 8.  In order to accomplish this task, each team took pictures of each building from every angle.  Using Google Earth, they were able to estimate the general length and width of the buildings.  Additionally, they took hand measurements in order to estimate the size of design elements.  The teams spent dozens of man-hours on designing each building in SketchUp.  Even minor structural details were included.

On June 28,  all three teams made presentations of their work to Wilberforce University faculty and staff.  The assistant teams discussed in detail their methodologies for the buildings and explained their experiences with emergency planning.  As they concluded their work, each gave a  summary of their development obstacles and how to handle these issues.  Overall, the Summer Research Assistant program was highly productive.

Posted in DMR News, Research, Uncategorized

Our Own Mr. Watkins Speaks on Expert Panel

On May 23, Mr. Maurice J.Watkins represented Wilberforce University on the 2012 National Homeland Security Conference “Social Media During Emergencies” Panel. There is growing need for local emergency professionals to use a wider range of communication tools. So, the purpose of the panel was to educate emergency professionals about social media and its practical use.

At the start of the session, Mr. Watkins gave a presentation on Social Media in Emergency Management. His presentation described best practices for emergency notification and effectively using social media. After the presentations of the other panelists, the entire panel fielded questions from homeland security and emergency management professionals. This led to an active and productive discussion. Other panelists included: Tamara McBride (Ohio Emergency Management Agency), Jim Lynch (Ohio State University), Bob Armstrong (Ohio State University), and Donna Willis (WCMH NBC 4).

Posted in Uncategorized

Graduation 2012

Graduate Danielle Dixion and another intern Hauwa Muibi

We want to bid a fond farewell to two of our students.  Ms. Jonnelle Ransom and Danielle Dixon graduated Summa Cum Laude on Saturday, May 5.  Not only did these students do well in their classes, they were excellent additions to our team.   We wish them the best of luck in their bright careers!

Graduate Jonnel Ransom

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Students Honored


Dahrion Johnson receives scholarship award.

On Tuesday, some of our current and former interns received scholarships at Wilberforce University’s  Honors Convocation.  Dahrion Johnson, Lacretia Daniels, Hauwa Muibi, Jonathan  McBride, and Christopher Adams were all honored with at least one scholarship award.  We congratulate the students on their success.


Hauwa Muibi honored with scholarship award.

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2012 Workshop Facing the Expected

2012 Facing the Expected Workshop

Director D'Allensandris gives the keynote address.

On March 24, the Wilberforce University-NNSA team hosted the 2012 Facing the Expected workshop.  Starting at roughly 9am, five speakers  talked about disaster preparedness in detail.

Randy Hormann gives presentation to workshop.

DirectorLisa D’Allensandris (Clark County Emergency Management Agency) spoke about the critical nature of preparedness.   Ms. Catherine Reed (of Dayton Red Cross) taught the fundamentals of kit preparation and disaster planning.  Mr. Randy Hormann (of Campus Fire Safety) went into detail about home hazards.   Dr. Adeji Badiru (of AFIT) explained how human factors effected emergency communications, and our own Dr. Kera Watkins introduced our disaster planning software, WILBER.

Dr. Badiru gives his presentation.

We want to extend a special thanks to everyone involved with the workshop.  Gamma Phi Delta and Black Women United volunteered and donated food.  Our NNSA scholars also helped run the workshop.  The National Center for Medical Readiness and the Dayton Red Cross provided information booths during lunch (sponsored by McDonald’s of N. Detriot St., Xenia, Ohio).  The workshop was success due to the collaborative efforts of these groups and our own staff.   Again, Thanks for your help and participation!

Posted in Disaster Management Concepts, DMR News, Preparedness Tips | Tagged , ,

Techfest 2012

Wilberforce University – NNSA Staff and Interns Educate Children about Disasters

On February 18 & 19, Wilberforce-NNSA staff and interns ran an exhibit booth for the 10th annual Techfest in Dayton, Ohio.  Sponsored by the Affiliate Societies Council, Techfest is a cornucopia of STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) exhibits.  These exhibits ran the gambit from manufacturing processes to computer simulations and live tarantulas.  All the exhibitors shared the common goal to pique student interest toward STEM disciplines.

Children and Parents crowd around booth during Techfest

Wilberforce staff members and student interns guided children through disaster simulations.  These simulations included: escaping from a house fire, finding shelter during a tornado, and escaping a flooding neighborhood. Also, one of our research partners, Katrina Simon-Agolory, taught a GIS (Graphical Information Systems) class for K-12 teachers on entitled “Connecting your Classroom to the Community”.

Ms. Simon-Agolory talks to teachers about GIS

In summary, three staff members and seven students worked more than 40 hours this weekend to make the exhibit possible.  At least one hundred students and parents visited the Wilberforce University-NNSA Booth during Techfest.   This year’s exhibit was a resounding success!

Student intern helps child with Tornado drill simulation

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2011 in Review

Dr. Kera Watkins presenting at ISCRAM 2011

The Wilberforce University-NNSA grant had a great year.   The research team, led by Dr. Kera Watkins, had five research publications regarding automated disaster planning and risk management.

Dr. Venkateswaran presenting at ISCRAM 2011

Our researchers presented at the International Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2011), World Congress for Disaster & Emergency Medicine (WCDEM2011), Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Symposium (CBRN), and the ESRI International User Conference (ESRI IUC 2011).

Student intern, Jonnel Ransom, with our virtual disaster exhibit.

Our staff showcased crisis-related exhibits at six different events: ISCRAM, WCDEM, SIGCSE, Techfest, STARS Celebration, and ESRI UC.

In 2012, we’re planning to launch our WILBER (Wilberforce’s Information Library Boosting Emergency Recovery) software.  This software would allow families to create risk-based disaster plan in a matter of minutes.   The software will be officially launched at our Disaster Management & Recovery Workshop on March 24, 2012.

Student Interns at ESRI Booth

Students help run ESRI Exhibition Booth

The March 24 Workshop, “Facing the Expected”, will feature speakers from Emergency Managers and Non-profit Organizations on disaster preparedness and related topics.  You can find the most current information at our main website here.  We are also planning an undergraduate summer institute for disaster management education and related research.

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STARS Celebration 2011

In August, students and staff attended the STARS Celebration in Raleigh, North Carolina. The STARS Alliance (Students in Teaching Academia Research and Service) has the STARS Celebration annually to bring together more than twenty participating universities.  During the school year, these schools mentor college students and perform outreach to K-12 students.  This work has the goal of promoting computing fields and increasing the number of successful graduates in computing fields.

This year’s celebration included a wide of range of training and instruction.  Students and Faculty were able to learn about the latest trends  in research, “gamification” (using games to educate or solve problems), job hunting, and graduate education.   Students participated mentoring workshops designed to promote identity, support, and leadership.  Each school brought their own poster demonstrating their work over the 2010-2011 Academic year.  Overall, our students and staff developed new relationships, learned cutting edge information, and shared our progress.

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