Jan. 4, 2012 – 8:16 p.m.
With the new year beginning, CQ has asked dozens of homeland security experts in the public, private and academic sectors to weigh in on the lessons of 2011 and what 2012 holds in store. In this final installment of a three-part series, respondents answered the question: “The 10 years since Sept. 11 have seen major organizational shifts at the agencies that prepare for, respond to and help recover from terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other catastrophes. What’s the next big move the federal government needs to make?”
Chris Battle, partner at the Adfero Group, former director of public affairs at Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
Emergency management agencies have not kept up with the changing media landscape. Communication with the public during crises is critical, and if you’re not communicating via digital platforms today then you’re not communicating. With their bureaucratic processes, risk aversion, paralysis over political and legal repercussions, and lack of awareness of new communications technologies, government agencies are losing their positions as first-line trusted sources of public information. Increasingly, citizens are bypassing the government and turning to one another through social media channels.
Agencies must revise their processes — not only leveraging digital media but doing so in an operational way that allows citizen participation. Governments are notoriously afraid of losing control of information, but it’s simply a fact that they have already lost that control. The public already uses social media to gather information and will no longer wait for the government. Governments can harness this new media landscape or become irrelevant in it.
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