When a disaster strikes and response systems become stressed, affected agencies can work with trusted volunteers to provide social media and digital surge support. To support agencies that are looking to launch and maximize the benefits of a digital volunteer program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) developed a Digital Volunteer Program Guide (Guide). The Guide provides step-by-step guidance on developing a digital volunteer program to comprehensively plan for and integrate digital volunteers into routine social media emergency management (SMEM) operations. Users follow Guide prompts to:
- Think critically about major digital volunteer strategy considerations, including agency recruitment processes;
- Outline digital volunteer terms in Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to clearly define roles and responsibilities prior to an incident; and
- Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) to improve coordination across volunteers and staff, create efficiencies, minimize errors, and regulate routine tasks.
After completing the Guide, agencies will have digital volunteer processes and plans they can immediately implement to improve operations. Best practices from emergency officials and SMEM subject matter experts (SMEs) captured during development are included throughout the Guide.