CRISIS TWEETS: It’s raining, it’s pouring and the Environment Agency is tweeting

29606844754_e9719138bb_bIt’s been raining solidly for the past 24-hours and the flood warnings have been pouring in.

Winter is well and truly here and the risk of flooding is rising.

Step forward people who are using the web, email and social media to communicate.

Local government and fire, police and ambulance services all play a role. But the organisation that is head and shoulders above others in an emergency is the Environment Agency. The organisation has a highly devolved and regionalised social media policy that sees scores of staff trained on scores of accounts. There are also more than 80 different Twitter accounts as well as a presence on Facebook, Flickr and a blog. A webpage is also updated with flood warnings. You can search with your postcode for updates.

Why a regional, devolved approach works

The thinking is simple. If you like in Herefordshire  you’d want the information in your area. So with regional accounts there is a stream of information for your area. You don’t have to wade through Cumbrian updates, for example. The large numbers of staff trained also helps resilience. This makes perfect sense.

Post-truth the human face is even greater

I’ve been banging on about having members of staff posting in a human voice as themselves for years. They are able to build trust in peacetime and can find themselves calling on that well on good feeling when the chips are down. In the context of post-truth where no-one can entirely trust what they are reading the value of having a trusted member of staff with a social presence rises.

Which is all why Dave Throup, Herefordshire’s area manager, is a major asset. When the water levels rise Dave shares warnings as well as sharing other content.



But aside from warnings, there is content taken and posted by mobile phone. This adds to credibility and acts as a line of content for news outlets struggling with smaller newsrooms.


I’m not convinced that Twitter is the answer for everything. But in this case there is an established network and the updates reach journalists and community opinion formers. It would be interesting to see the EA searching for Facebook groups and pages to engage with in an emergency, for example. There are more than 30 such groups in the Shropshire town of Bewdley, for example. Some can reach severakl thousand people.

But overall, I love ikt. This is the perfect approach to take. A mix of national, regional and personal.

Picture credit: USDA / Flickr

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