MiCAST offers the ability to communicate with residents in real-time if a disaster of that magnitude were to happen in the United States. The service allows immediate communication resources on the scene and helps survivors as they struggle to find rescue and medical assistance, and the most basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.
While the disaster in Haiti is an extreme case, it demonstrates that the ability to get critical information to the people who need it before, during and after a natural disaster is essential to saving lives, protecting property and speeding recovery.
A new and innovative approach to communicating during a natural disaster, the Mobile Information Crisis Action Support Team (MiCAST), is a finalist in this year’s prestigious PitchIt! Challenge held at the We Media conference in Miami, Fla. March 9-11, 2010.
MiCAST is a disaster information service that combines the immediacy of broadcast media with the flexibility of the Internet and cutting-edge social media capabilities to deploy up-to-date, actionable information to the epicenter of a natural disaster or ahead of a potential emergency.
MiCAST partners with existing resources in an affected area, such as radio and television stations, local governments, emergency responders, and non-profit, charitable and community organizations, to expand their ability to provide critical information. Through an integrated network of traditional media, new media (social networking, video and mobile communications)
The MiCAST concept was developed and successfully deployed during the record 2009 flooding of the Red River Valley region around Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN.
The MiCAST team invested countless hours and resources to devise the strategy for the flood, formulating a flood information network that provided residents information that was timely, accurate and actionable.
The MiCAST team developed a web site dedicated to flood-related information and partnered with North Dakota State University journalism students to produce real-time reports using mobile cameras.
The team provided online steaming of live broadcasts and student-produced video reports while on-air radio personnel distributed a steady stream of flood-related information obtained from its student field reporters and other sources.
As the river crested for the first time, the team began wall-to-wall coverage, providing, as FEMA official Ed Conley said live on the air, “a forum for discussion, emergency information, news-you-can-
The team’s radio platform received Talkers Magazine’s National Community Service Award at last June’s New Media Seminar in New York City for its flood coverage.
Each PitchIt! finalist will make a formal presentation to a panel of expert judges who will select the winners. The best entry will receive a $25,000 prize to help launch their new venture thanks to a generous grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Winners will be announced March 11, 2010. If selected as the winner, the MiCAST team will use the money to fund their outreach to potential partners and clients.
MiCAST was featured in a September 2009 Politics Magazine cover story and in today’s edition of Radio/TV Business Report http://www.rbr.com/
More information on MiCAST can be found at www.MiCAST.org. Businesses, non-profits and individuals interested in partnership opportunities to improve the concept should contact the team at www.MiCAST.org/
The following individuals in the broadcast media, government, public relations and digital technology fields developed MiCAST:
MARK PFEIFLE: VP at S4 Inc., served as deputy national security advisor for communication and global outreach at the White House
JONATHAN THOMPSON: Executive VP, S4 Inc., and former FEMA external affairs director
PAUL MORREL: VP at S4 Inc., served as NASA chief of staff, a National Security Council communications specialist and chief of staff in the U.S. House of Representatives
SCOTT HENNEN: President and CEO of Great Plains Integrated Marketing in Fargo, ND, host of The Scott Hennen Show and recipient of the Edward R. Morrow Award for flood coverage in 1997
JAMES DAVIS: Manager of Digital Communications at Gibraltar Associates, previously served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
MATT BURNS: Director, Media Relations at UnitedHealth Group in MN, formally served as the director of communications at 2008 Republican National Convention
CHRIS BROOKS: Online communications specialist with experience in political, non-profit and corporate ventures