First Responders Connect Online
A recent article in Federal Computer Week online featured the Department of Homeland Security’s First Responder Community of Practice, an online collaboration tool for the emergency preparedness and response community. The social media site allows practitioners to join and create communities based on interest areas, disciplines and projects. On the site, practitioners have several resources available to them – they can connect with other practitioners, share files, create wiki pages, and share information and perspectives through blog posts and discussion forums.
The practitioners involved in the Virtual USA initiative have been using this online collaboration tool since its release in February and some participated in the pilot site that lead to the current system. As I have mentioned when I blogged on the launch of Virtual USA, DHS has been working to align itself with Obama’s initiatives to make government open and collaborative. Collaboration among emergency responders allows them to discuss things like technology, policies and best practices and means that they will have better information as they make the critical decisions that keep our communities safe. In the case of Virtual USA, practitioners are working together to ensure the initiative is addressing their needs at the same time they are sharing information with each other on how to advance their own information sharing systems.