Cranbrook will soon be making the jump to the digital world of social media thanks to a new Social Media Governance policy. The city won’t be making too much of a leap though, as the policy deals only with “emergency information distribution.”
The policy will help the municipality to get time-sensitive information out to the public in a timely manner. City staff noted that social media is often better at disseminating information quickly that traditional media sources.
The move was prompted by the July 2012 windstorm which knocked out the city’s website as well as the radio station. Staff noted that the radio’s Facebook page was the only avenue the city had of getting important information out to residents.
“This came out of the fire department,” Mayor Wayne Stetski said. “Again it’s just recognizing the reality of the day, where social media is the fastest, most effective way to get out information. It’s designed, at this point, to be a one-way passing of information.”
Stetski noted that all the normal ways of communicating will still be there.
Coun. Diana J. Scott said she thought it was great.
“I think having this a one-way relieves us of potential FOIP liability and that kind of stuff,” she said, referring to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which public bodies must adhere to. “At the same time it gets the information out there, and it gets the proper information out there. Because if something happens everybody is on social media yaking about it, but half the time it’s all rumour, conjecture, speculation, it’s not good information. So if the city can get out information about traffic or floods or traffic or whatever, it’s the proper information that’s going to circulate and not just speculation and rumour.”
Coun. Sharon Cross said one important point to be made is about the catalyst for creating this policy came out of the windstorm of 2012. She said this gives the city another avenue of communication through the Facebook page.
Stetski noted the important last paragraph in the report.
“This is the first step towards the full fledged social media governance policy with the City of Cranbrook, and it will allow staff to work through the planning, set-up, maintenance and records management components of social media and further explore its future use in ensuring administration can meet all of its legal and legislative requirements.”