For years, emergency operations software such as WebEOC have been our primary response communications and management systems. As we progressively move into a more social and interconnected world, solutions that are cost effective, but cut across organizational boundaries are essential. I have been toying with the idea utilizing a white label social network (your own fully branded social network) such as Ning.com to form the emergency operations backbone of smaller communities and/or specialized functional groups throughout all phases of emergency management. While Ning doesn't have all the features a community may want, I believe it to have many of the core functions needed for small communities to effectively communicate and manage operations.
The are some great benefits to using a tool like Ning for core situational awareness and interagency communications:
- Setup and maintenance costs are VERY minimal ( $50/month for 1,000 users)
- The platform is easily scalable with no per seat licenses
- Easy adoption & training as the platform mimics key features of familiar social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn
- Has "Group" functionality to develop specialized pages and conversation
- Easy membership management with roles
- Easy privacy controls
- Mobile ready
Undoubtedly, a white label social network can get many communities started. Some work-arounds can easily be figured out for some of the more specialized needs such as task and file management. For example, Google Spreadsheets can be used to track and manage tasks while Google Drive can support file sharing and management.
If white label social networks are not your thing, I just got a tour of a new solution called Veoci that has many social network like qualities with the added benefit of tightly integrated task, file and member management. Though a relatively new solution, this platform is quite mature and robust. I like how easy it is to use. If you can figure out Facebook and Asana, you can pretty much understand how Veoci works. I suspect for subset of communities, Veoci as the more costly and robust solution is an absolute necessity.
For many others though, I am curious if white label platforms like Ning.com can serve a similar function? Has anyone tried this or is willing to try it?