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Blog 3: Public Information Systems

FEMA’s public information system training NIMS (National Incident Management System) fits perfectly with what we have been discussing in our crisis communication class. The main focus of the NIMS is to facilitate a national system to communicate public information to the community, media, and other crisis employes in the most efficient way possible. The main premise of the CDC’s (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) is their phases on how to handle a crisis which we learned about in class, and implement it into our mock press conferences. NIMS aims to inform the public on how large the incident is, the resources needed for to handle that incident, and other miscellaneous things that stakeholders need to know during this crisis. Like the CDC’s first step of crisis and risk communication, NIMS also has steps in the pre incident phase. They too stress the importance of fostering alliances with other emergency squads in the area so that you have personnel that can help if needed, and  have a smart kit that has  all the communicative tools needed if a disaster were to strike. Also they have a comprehensive risk based plan that outlines all the potential hazards, and will supply the PIOs  (Public Information Officers) the information they need to communicate to the public.

Another similarity NIMS has with the CDC is during the initial phase and crisis management phase.  NIMS’ goal during the incident is to:

  • Gathering Information
  • Verifying Information
  • Coordinating Information
  • Disseminating Information
Essentially this entails much of what the CDC was talking about with monitoring the media for false information, listening to public concerns, and gathering information from the field. The PIOs make sure that the information that they have gathered is correct, are able to be sent out to the public. That way the messages are short and concise so that a broad audience can understand, just like what we learned in class through the CDC, as well as the importance of nuggets bits of information. Finally just like the CDC’s last resolution phase, NIMS also has a process set up to analyze how well crisis communicators issued out the public information. They ask three questions to evaluate their progress:
  • What did we do this time?
  • What do we want to do next time?
  • What do we need to do now to be ready for next time?
Both of systems, the one we learned in class and  NIMS,  require reflection on the actions that they did to help resolve the crisis at hand. They both analyze whether the used communication techniques and messages sent out used are well done, and examine what needs to be fixed in the future.
There are many similarities between what we talk about in class and with NIMS. But there are also some new things I learned as well from the Public Information System. One is the difference between the JIC and the JIS. The JIS (Joint Information System)  is a system that allows PIOs from multiple jurisdictions to communicate with one another, and put out a concise, uniformed message throughout every location. I thought this was interesting because this would prevent the confusion from multiple messages being put out. The JIC (Joint Information Center) on the other hand is the location that runs the JIS and allows for the shared use of resources. It is also a shared location for the PIOs to meet and coordinate messages. The JIC can be on the incident site, virtual and even can facilitate a national disaster. The JIS and JIC are important because as more instances that require multiple PIOs on potentially numerous locations continue to occur, there needs to be a system in place that will allow crisis communicators to speak to the public in a consise, clear and uniformed manner.
  1. October 26, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Good overview. Very thorough. Nice job.

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