Federal law requires the NOC to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture for the entire federal government, and for state, local, and tribal governments as appropriate, and to ensure that critical disaster-related information reaches government decision makers. See Section 515 of the Homeland Security Act (6 U.S.C. § 321d(b)(1)). The law defines the term “situational awareness” as “information gathered from a variety of sources that, when communicated to emergency managers and decision makers, can form the basis for incident management decision-making.” OPS is launching and leading this Initiative to fulfill its legal mandate to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. In doing so, OPS is working with select components within the Department to achieve this statutory mandate.

The NOC will use Internet-based platforms that provide a variety of ways to follow activity related to monitoring publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards. Through the use of publicly available search engines and content aggregators2 the NOC will monitor activities on the social media sites listed in Appendix A for information that the NOC can use to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. Appendix A is a current list of sites that the NOC will use as a starting point under this Initiative. Initial sites listed may link to other sites not listed. The NOC may also monitor those sites if they are within the scope of this Initiative. The NOC will gather, store, analyze, and disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, and foreign governments, and private sector partners authorized to receive situational awareness and a common operating picture. Under this initiative, OPS will not: 1) actively seek personally identifiable information (PII); 2) post any information; 3) actively seek to connect with other internal/external personal users; 4) accept other internal/external personal users’ invitations to connect; or 5) interact on social media sites. However, OPS is permitted to establish user names and passwords to form profiles and follow relevant government, media, and subject matter experts on social media sites listed in Appendix A in order to use search tools under established criteria and search terms such as those listed in Appendix B for monitoring that supports providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.

The NOC will identify and monitor only information needed to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. The NOC will use this information to fulfill the statutory mandate set forth above to include the sharing of information with foreign governments and the private sector as otherwise authorized by law.
The Department may use social media for other purposes including interacting with the public, disseminating information to the public, as well as law enforcement, intelligence, and other operations covered by applicable authorities and PIAs. For more information on these social media PIAs, visit www.dhs.gov/privacy.

Full report with list of monitored sites below…




Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative