On August 17th I published an article CAER - Social Media and On Line Networking to help gather information for a presentation to a joint meeting of Toronto CAER groups. This article summarizes the information I gathered before and during the presentation and sugests that CAER groups use of on line resources to supplement their traditional ways of networking within their communities could help address some of their challenges.
First, thank you to the 330 + viewers who took time to read my original article. The fact that it was viewed over 330 times just confirms the power of social networking (Twitter, Linked In etc.) to raise awareness about an article so that those with an interest can read it.
I thank Christal Ivanyshyn for her response to the article. Christel is a community emergency manager with a chemical industry background, but her response which indicated she is looking for similar information, unfortunately did not provide any good examples I could share in my presentation. Christel's response, the lack of responses from others who read the article and my research into CAER groups use of social media and on line networking pretty much confirmed my initial assumption that CAER groups, in general, have not yet started using social media and on line networking to any significant extent to complement their traditional community outreach initiatives. Some care groups do use traditional web sites to help inform and communicate with the public. Some of their web sites are excellent but others have their challenges due to lack of personnel who have either the technical ability or the time to maintain the web site.
It is unfortunate that on line networking is not being used more widely by CAER groups because discussion during and following my presentation indicated CAER groups are facing challenges that on line networking could help them overcome. Challenges such as trying to interface with residents in a large geographic area where it may not be practical to attend a central meeting, declining attendance at planning meetings due to time constraints and competing priorities, not effectively using the traditional web sites they do have because of the time consuming process of passing the information they want posted through numerous individuals to a volunteer web master who may not have time to post the information. Policies regarding use of social media may also stand in the way of effectively using it. I did not receive that specific feedback from meeting attendees but when I attempted to show a video produced by the American Chemistry Association recognizing the 2011 Responsible Care Companies of the Year, it was blocked by the Ministry of Environment internet connection I was using which indicated I was trying to access a site (You Tube) which was not allowed.
To keep this article short I plan a follow up article that identifies specific ways CAER groups may want to consider using on line networking and social media to support their mandate. If you are aware of situations where CARE groups using on line networking or social media, please respond to my article to share this information.