Rochester Pilot Site Featured in Local News

The Democrat and Chronicle features the Rochester Center for Dispute Settlement’s (CDS) work with the Rochester Community Response Team (CRT).  An outgrowth of Unite Rochester Program, CRT seeks to plan in advance of civil unrest and defuse volatile situations before they erupt.  CRT recently joined the Divided Community Project as one of the Project’s pilot sites.

The article features Project director Grande Lum, CDS Director Frank Liberti and CRT leader Cynthia Herriott.

Click here to review the Democrat and Chronicle article.


The Divided Community Project works with pilot sites across the country, including project in San Mateo, California, Orlando, Florida, Columbus, Ohio and Rochester, New York.  


Photo Credit: Scott OvesRochesterSept. 18, 2011 (CC BY 2.0), cropped.

Social Media–Increasingly Useful in Responding to Natural Disasters

Robert Southers*

As discussed in the Divided Community Project’s report, Divided Communities and Social Media, social media and internet can be a powerful tool to help community leaders better serve their communities. Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the same tools discussed in Social Media have been invaluable in aiding those affected by the storms. Communities have used trusted online information sources to relay information to residents; emergency officials have monitored social media to learn about residents in need.  Although these tools have been used in natural disasters elsewhere in the world, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have provided some of the first insights into how American communities and leaders will utilize social media and the internet to provide relief as quickly and efficiently as possible.[1]

Almost immediately following Hurricane Harvey, the Twitter hashtags #SOSHouston and #SOSHarvey began to trend with victims calling for help.[2] With city, state, and federal resources stretched beyond capacity, Twitter evolved into a platform for rescue efforts, specifically assisting emergency workers find those in need. Twitter users shared the location and number of people at each location in need of aid; this allowed for rescuers already in the area to quickly respond and bring those in need to safety.[3]

Bobby Lopez was one of those individuals who turned to social media for help.[4] Bobby’s parents and nephew were trapped by the rising floodwaters and unable to escape; their home would soon be engulfed by water if help did not arrive quickly.[5] Bobby tried to call 911, but dispatchers were already overwhelmed with other calls.[6] Unable to reach his loved ones by truck, Bobby turned to twitter: “’My mom is stuck in Songwood!’ he tweeted, tagging, among others, an unofficial Houston Fire Department rescue account and the Houston Police Department. ‘Mom elderly and disabled and have my nephew.’”[7] Bobby’s pleas for help were seen by a neighbor with a boat and all three were taken from the home to safety.[8]

While individuals affected by Hurricane Irma used social media for rescue attempts in similar ways as those affected by Hurricane Harvey,[9] leaders in Florida utilized social media in unique ways to ensure the best response to the storm as possible.[10] Florida’s tourism office used targeted Facebook messaging to reach out to over 280,000 people believed to be visiting the state prior to Irma’s landfall advising them on precautions to take leading up to and during the storm.[11] Florida’s governor, Rick Scott also worked closely with Google to ensure that Google Maps provided up to date information on road closures throughout the state.[12]The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used Twitter to provide people in the affected area with real-time weather forecasts as the hurricane changed course.[13] The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Urban Risk Lab used a chat bot on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram to allow for crowd sourced information on flooding, allowing the organization to create a real-time map of flooding throughout the state.[14] While Snapchat’s map feature provided a similar service,[15] MIT’s flooding map provided greater in-depth information on flooding by having the chat bot ask for specific information from those affected by flooding rather than only showing pictures and videos taken by those in the area.

Although social media was a valuable tool during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the way it is used has evolved dramatically in the past five years.[16] In 2012, social media provided the world with pictures and videos of the damage that traditional news sources could not reach.[17] While social media users still provided information and images from areas that journalists may otherwise be unable to reach, such as videos of construction cranes being blown over in high winds in Miami,[18] efforts to coordinate to rescue and recovery efforts through social media were not present after previous storms.[19]

Despite the benefits of using social media during national disasters, it is not a perfect solution, nor has it been utilized without problems. For example, community leaders in Texas discouraged victims of the storm from using social media to ask for help.[20] Although 911 was overwhelmed with calls leaving many unable to reach emergency services, only private rescuers turned to social media to find those victims who could not use traditional methods to seek help.[21]

Social media is a powerful tool that community leaders can use to better serve their communities, whether in times of disaster or times of peace. It can allow for the rapid dissemination of information as well as a wealth of information that may otherwise not be available. However, it is not a perfect solution. Community leaders should continue to consider the advantages and disadvantages of social media as they serve their communities through all situations.  For more ideas about how to take advantage of social media’s opportunities in your community, take a look at the Project’s report, Social Media.


*Southers is currently the Fellow at the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Resource Center. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a former DCP research assistant.  This article does not reflect the position of The Ohio State University nor the Franklin County Municipal Court.


Photo Credit: J. Daniel EscarenoHarvey Day 5-12, Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 2.0


[1] http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/28/media/harvey-rescues-social-media-facebook-twitter/index.html
[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-harvey/soshouston-how-apps-social-media-assist-harvey-rescue-efforts-n797841
[3] http://mashable.com/2017/08/29/social-media-harvey-rescues-force-for-good/#hnAfTDQpPOqj
[4] https://www.dallasnews.com/news/weather/2017/08/27/911-failed-desperate-harvey-victims-took-social-media-help
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/social-media-word-irma-emergency-49785921
[10] https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-hurricane-irma-information-officials-post-on-social-media-1505149661
[11] Id.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] https://riskmap.us; see also http://news.mit.edu/2017/map-real-time-crowd-sourced-flood-reporting-hurricane-irma-0908; https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/9/16280250/mit-urban-risk-lab-riskmap-hurricane-irma-real-time-crowdsource-flood-reporting.
[15] http://elitedaily.com/social-news/snapchat-tracking-flooding-houston-hurricane-harvey/2056941/
[16] http://mashable.com/2017/08/29/social-media-harvey-rescues-force-for-good/#hnAfTDQpPOqj
[17] Id.
[18] https://twitter.com/wxkev/status/906887989497868288; https://twitter.com/treyKAHrahTAY/status/907022817748819968/video/1
[19] http://mashable.com/2017/08/29/social-media-harvey-rescues-force-for-good/#hnAfTDQpPOqj
[20] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harvey-social-media_us_59a47f42e4b050afa90c1049
[21] Id.

 

Using Social Media to Increase Input from Residents

Our recent report Divided Communities and Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders highlights how the phenomenal growth in social media is altering the way that community members perceive and interact with each other. In the face of pervasive use of social media, community leaders have to up their game to address community division.

The report focused on five social media strategies for community leaders to utilize to help communities turn division into positive change:

  1. Use social media, websites, and apps to create widely-used and trusted online information sources for residents that will help maintain and enhance residents’ confidence and become an antidote to inaccurate news and unsubstantiated rumors
  2. Use social media, websites, and apps to increase input from residents in ongoing decisions respond to residents’ concerns.
  3. Use social media, websites, and apps to promote offline, face-to-face events and to support online dialogue among residents in order to build community resiliency.
  4. Work to reduce and combat online hate speech/discriminatory conduct through social media so as to reduce the effects.
  5. Mine social media and other online data as part of an overall ongoing initiative to better understand community concerns.

Of the 5 strategies, #2 using social media, websites and apps to increase input from resident, is  a useful strategy to begin with in order to get immediate results.

Following a tumultuous weekend of protests in San Jose, the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) brought together a diverse group of 200 residents, civic leaders, and police officers to map out solutions in a Community Trust in Policing Forum. Participants included local residents, families who had lost loved ones to police shootings, community-based organizations, local law enforcement leaders, and city officials.

Utilizing both trained facilitators from the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (which is leading the Divided Community Project Pilot Program in San Mateo, California) and My90 – a civic technology that sources local data to improve communication, trust, and safety – immigrant community residents spoke on their experiences with law enforcement, family members of many victims of police shootings spoke about their frustrations and their need for improved processes, and residents who have had positive interactions with command staff spoke on their desire for improved relationships with officers who patrol their neighborhoods. The use of technology was critical, allowing attendees to send and receive over 1,500 text messages throughout the course of the event to share feedback, questions, and solutions.

The Forum tackled difficult issues on a tumultuous weekend of protests. Improving community trust in local police has always touched upon race, citizenship, mental health, and more. Now, as the tensions between local and national politics increased, so has the significance of these issues.

The Independent Police Auditor hosted the Community Trust in Policing Forum in partnership with Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, with the support of the San Francisco 49ers. A wide range of stakeholders were invited, all of whom are needed to help San Jose become a national leader in community-police relations. Participants included local residents, families who had lost loved ones to police shootings, community-based organizations, local law enforcement leaders, and city officials. Speakers included Chief of Police Eddie Garcia, community leaders, and national experts on subjects of race, sociology, and policy.

Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center provided 12 facilitators for the second half of the summit where the entire participating group was divided into smaller sections for dialogue. In many of these groups, immigrant community residents spoke on their experiences with law enforcement, family members of many victims of police shootings expressed their frustration and their need for improved processes, and residents who have had some positive interactions with command staff spoke on their desire for improved relationships with officers who patrol the neighborhoods.

The approximately 200 participants shared their suggestions for improved relationships, increased presence and oversight of the IPA, and their hopes for working together towards a safer community.

Participant feedback was a critical part of the event, and is being used to help build the foundation of a community-driven strategy to measurably improve local community-police relations in terms of engagement, trust, and safety. My90 is civic technology company that sources local data to improve communication, trust and safety. Attendees sent and received 1,513 anonymous My90 text messages throughout the course of the event to share feedback, questions, and solutions. My90 offered participants a chance to answer targeted questions and discuss general viewpoints about the San Jose Police Department, the IPA, and the City of San Jose. Participants shared feedback about proposed policy changes, speakers’ remarks, participatory breakout sessions, and their own personal interactions with local police officers.

The combined efforts of technology-driven iterative feedback from 200 participants and inclusive facilitated in-person dialogue supported by skilled facilitators from the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center led to suggestions for improved relationships, increased presence and oversight of the independent auditor’s office, and hopes for working together towards a safer community.

Social Media Report Featured in Moritz Dispute Resolution Newsletter

The June 2017 edition of Mayhew-Hite Report features the Divided Community Project’s newest report “Divided Communities and Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders.”  The Mayhew-Hite Report on Dispute Resolution and the Courts is a joint publication of The Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution and the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Program on Dispute Resolution.

Click here to review the complete Mayhew-Hite Report.

Community Leaders React to the Midland Simulation

For a complete copy of the simulation, please email Associate Director Bill Froehlich at froehlich.28@osu.edu To take a look at the general instructions, click here.

Earlier this month the Divided Community Project released the “Midland Simulation: A Table-Top Exercise on Leadership During Community Division and Civil Unrest.”  As part of the DCP’s Columbus pilot project, twenty civic leaders in Columbus (Ohio) participated in the multi-party simulation–three of their immediate reactions are available on Vimeo.  Upper Arlington (Ohio) Police Chief Tracy Hahn considers how to connect with community groups.  Columbus State Community College Special Assistant to the President Kim Brazwell explains that the simulation helps illustrate “which voices were missing in the room from all types of diversity elements” and was profound in highlighting what resources the community might be missing.  Imran Malik, Executive President of the Noor Islamic Center, emphasized relationships and collaboration should be pro-active and should not simply react to divisive community issues.  Take a look at their reactions on video!

While debriefing The Midland Simulation the DCP’s Columbus pilot project clarified its mission to plan in advance of civil unrest and recognized the challenges and opportunities posed by social media.  The simulation is designed to test the preparation of participants to lead during a crisis involving community division and to help them appreciate the value of preparing ahead of a crisis, especially in an era of increasingly instantaneous communication.

The Midland Simulation was developed by recent Moritz Law graduate Jackie Fisher as part of an independent study with DCP Steering Committee Member Nancy Rogers.

Eight Project Research Assistants Graduate from Moritz Law Today!

Congratulations to eight wonderful research assistants who supported the Divided Community Project during their tenure as law students at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Moritz’s hooding ceremony takes place today at Ohio State’s Mershon Auditorium.

The featured photo (above) features DCP steering committee member Nancy Rogers and her dispute systems design workshop.  Rogers’ class was instrumental in developing the foundation for the project’s newest report, Divided Communities and Social Media.  

Ben Cahn, Jennifer MensahBrooks Boron and Robby Southers (all part of the featured photo) were instrumental in the development of DCP’s most recent report, Divided Communities and Social Media.  In addition to their work in Rogers’ dispute systems design workshop, their language, words and ideas appear throughout the report.  They interviewed dispute resolution experts, social media strategists and community leaders to hone the report.  DCP is grateful for their thorough and efficient work!  Brooks, Robby and Jennifer graduate with a certificate in dispute resolution.

As part of Jackie Fisher’s (also part of the featured photo) independent study with Nancy Rogers, Jackie took the lead in drafting DCP’s new Midland Simulation: for Community Leaders.  Jackie also graduates with the certificate in dispute resolution.  Great work Jackie!  

Jackie, Robby and Mary Kate Moller served as DCP research assistants in spring 2016, conducing preliminary research for and supporting the DCP’s Columbus-based pilot project.  Like Jackie and Robby, Mary Kate graduates with Moritz’s certificate in dispute resolution.

Rachel Spiker supported DCP Director Grande Lum, conducting research related to several DCP projects.  Thanks for your help Rachel!

Leigh Anne Newcomer worked this spring  with Nancy Rogers on a paper describing the role that courts might play in helping divided communities. The article is under consideration for publication.  Great work Leigh Anne!

Simulation for Community Leaders now Available!

For a complete copy of the simulation, please email Associate Director Bill Froehlich at froehlich.28@osu.edu To take a look at the general instructions, click here.

“During imminent civil unrest, what are the most pressing issues community leaders face as they consider how to support their communities?”

Divided Community Project leaders often field this question as they work with community leaders from across the country to plan in advance of civil unrest.  Although DCP Steering Committee member Andrew Thomas can reflect on his experience supporting the community of Sanford, Florida navigating the Trayvon Martin tragedy (without violence or arrest) and DCP Director Grande Lum can share his experience working with communities facing crisis during his time at the helm of the Community Relations Service, our oral illustrations left participants wanting more.

Today, the project is pleased to announce the release of the “Midland Simulation: A Table-Top Exercise on Leadership During Community Division and Civil Unrest.”  The Midland Simulation is designed to test the preparation of participants to lead during a crisis involving community division and to help them appreciate the value of preparing ahead of a crisis, especially in an era of increasingly instantaneous communication.  Leading in this context incorporates addressing both community concerns and maintaining safety. Prepared by Jackie Fisher and the Divided Community Project, it raises issues regarding use of outside experts, identification of stakeholders, communication strategies in traditional and social media, setting the groundwork for collaborative processes to create real change, framing the issues facing the community, and planning ahead of civil unrest.

For a complete copy of the simulation, please email Associate Director Bill Froehlich at froehlich.28@osu.edu To take a look at the general instructions, click here.

Project Presents at ABA Dispute Resolution Conference

San Francisco, California – On April 20 and 21, 2017, Divided Community Project leaders and collaborators discussed the Project on multiple panels at the American Bar Association’s 19th Annual Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference.

On Thursday April 20, Director Grande Lum moderated “Building Trust and Resilience in Divided Communities” with four highly-regarded participants.

On Friday April 21, Director Lum joined JAMS Foundation Managing Director David Brandon, NAFCM Director D.G. Mawn and JAMS Executive Vice President Jay Welsh on a panel titled “Black and Blue: Healing the Divided in Police-Community Relations.”  Panelists discussed JAMS-funded projects (including the Divided Community Project) are addressing police-community relationships.

Social Media Report featured in Government Technology magazine

Photo credit Government Technology magazine.

On Monday April 17, 2017, the website Government Technology magazine featured an article highlighting the Divided Community Project’s new report Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders.  The Article, “4 Tips for Using Social Media to Address Social Division and Civil Unrest” emphasizes “preparation and trust.”

The article begins with a brief discussion of the social media report:

During the 2017 Government Social Media Conference held April 11-13 in Dallas, Texas, DCP Executive Director Grande Lum and Associate Director William Froehlich discussed the vital and expanding role social media plays in not only informing the public, but building consensus between misaligned factions.

The report, released April 11, is meant to serve as an “off-the-shelf guidebook” for community leaders and coordinators in the event civil unrest breaks out in their backyards. The document is the result of roughly a year of input gathering from social media coordinators, civic leaders and []mediators to take a deeper dive into anticipating and addressing unrest.

The pair suggested the use of social media platforms to lay the foundation for more solid relationships throughout the community.

Read the complete article here.  Review the  Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders here.

Social Media Report Available–Unveiled at GSMCon2017

Dallas, TX – On April 11, 2017, Divided Community Project Director Grande Lum delivered a keynote presentation at GSMCon2017 unveiling the Project’s newest report, Social Media and Divided Communities: Strategies for Community Leaders.  Lum presented his well-received remarks to a crowd of more than 500 public information officers and social media experts.

Immediately following Lum’s keynote presentation, Lum and Project Associate Director William Froehlich led a break-out session to dig into the details of the new report.

Take a look posts from yesterday’s event on twitter using the hashtag #GSMCon2017 or simply look at the feedback on Director Lum’s twitter feed.  Twitter highlights are on the right.

About the New Report:

Give us more detailed counsel for using social media when a community faces division.”  A comment such as this one was the most common response to the Divided Community Project’s first two reports, Key Considerations for Community Leaders Facing Civil Unrest and Planning in Advance of Civil Unrest, both issued in 2016.  This new report at the intersection of social media and community division responds to that request.

In terms of new opportunities in the context of community division, community leaders can now use social media and apps to provide a reliable source of information for residents, to improve their ability to hear and serve constituents, and to strengthen connections among residents and their pride in community.

In terms of new challenges, unrest can occur with little warning; those concerned about an issue now have inexpensive and effective ways to tell a story, stir emotions, create a sense of involvement in a larger movement, and give notice of protest plans.

This new report offers strategies for community leaders dealing with community division against the backdrop of these opportunities and challenges.

Read or download Social Media and Divided Communities: Strategies for Community Leaders here!