I had hoped to be able to blog my experiences at the ‘Social Media for Government’ conference, due to be held in Washington DC this week. Unfortunately the worst bizzard to hit this region in 90 years happened just before the weekend, so while I was able to make it into the city – they made huge efforts to get the main routes open – I can understand why actually it was the local delegates who couldn’t make it in.
Words like snowpocalypse, snowmageddon and snowsaster have been peppering the newsheadlines and twitter streams – and for once I think the news isn’t exaggerating, this region nearly is paralysed. I mentioned that main routes are open – just about, and that is taking an army of snow ploughs, salt lorries, and men with shovels. Even landing at Dulles international, it took 4 hours from touch down to me actually being able to leave the airport – due to frozen airbridges, sliding airplanes, huge queues to find out any information, let alone find transport to the city. Many roads are still untouched, so people living outside the centre are stuck at home. Government offices remain closed for a second day – although I think this is partly in anticipation of new snow which is forecast for this afternoon. Apparently over 200,000 people are without power – so at least I am lucky in being in a warm hotel, able to walk to local meetings and share snow stories!
Interesting that the very subject of the conference should be something that comes into its own in this sort of situation. The twitter stream was alive last night with locals trying to find out what might happen today. Apparently the main website used for communicating updates had crashed, so many were suggesting those in control should use a range of channels to get the news out to people….. Of course that is little use of you rely on a computer, which has run out of charge, but mobile batteries tend to have a fairly good life these days.
On a lighter note, social media can also be used to plan fun things – it even made the BBC news that people used twitter to plan a snowball fight about 4 blocks from where I am staying (before I arrived unfortunately!) They thought about 100 people might turn up, but several thousand did – who says no one uses twitter?
I’m here for the week, so am hoping to be able to catch up with people once offices re-open. I hope soon to be able to share some social media experiences and ideas from Washington.
Meanwhile, out again to enjoy the snow