It's all about communication. Open communication channels are at the centre of a functioning team. We investigate how important these channels are to your team and how you can go about communicate with each other online by creating your own emergency response team forums.
If world leaders can get opposing religions, tribes, and powers to talk - you can get your team to talk. Online forums are a fantastic way to level the field and let all ranks discuss topics in an open manner, and this is important. We recommend you set up your forums in a very structured fashion.
Keep Everything On-Topic - Don't have a 'General Chat' room that encourage off-topic conversations. This will open you up to the likelihood of mis-use. Keep everything on-topic, and moderated. Set up the topics in your forum to be linked directly to the activities, techniques, equipment, resources, that you use etc.
Structure Conversations - There are 4 things a responder should be prompted about to engage on regarding their activities - Ask A Question, Make A Proposal, Leave A Comment, Document A Lesson Learnt. By structuring conversations and providing prompts you will gain a much higher quality discussion.
Real Names Only - Don't let your crew use aliases or nicknames. Real names only means that everybody must stand over what they say. You should create and permission their accounts too. If you allow people to register themselves, and you just have to approve the account, watch out for misspelt duplicates such as a Phi1ip or T0m impersonating your members.
Email A Digest - Not everyone works at a desk. Their only access to the internet can be their email so send a good daily digest with links to each topic for people to easily reply. If somebody replies to to a topic somebody has posted in, drop them a notification. It's important to let people unsubscribe from topics too.
Private Location - Don't open it up to the public, or guests, or others. It's important your team understand everything they type here will only be seen by your team and not others.
A Full Audit Trail - If you've said something that is redacted, it needs to be recorded when and who deleted it. It's important to keep a full audit trail of history to keep everybody happy and the playing field level.
Use A Hosted Solution - Running your own forums may seem great at the start, but once spammers find it, or your site goes down, it can become very tedious. Using a hosted, while it may incur a charge can be very worth it over the long haul. There are many options such as ProBoard .
These features and more are some of the reasons we built Real-Time Collaboration into the Multi-Award Winning Emergency Response Team Software - Decisions [D4H]. If you already use it, what added functionality would you like? We know many of you would like to be able to create new topics on the fly.