Category Archives: YouTube

Module 16: Video Content Distribution Basics

Please take 15-25 minutes to complete this module. (This module is quite long–so there are no associated tasks.) 

Objective: To understand the basics of video content distribution and how the service can be utilized for crisis and preparedness communications.

What is a video sharing service?

According to “Short videos are used to communicate all kinds of information by way of websites and popular online video-sharing services. Government agencies use video to convey how-to information… scientific and cultural resources, and news.” You do not have to be a registered user to see content on YouTube or Vimeo, however, you do have to be registered with these sites in order to upload videos.  YouTube, LLC was bought by Google in 2006, and now operates as a subsidiary of Google.

Did you know? YouTube has a US Government “channel” with aggregated video content from all government agencies. The videos are listed in categories, such as “Health and Nutrition” and “Public Safety and Law.” It also has a “Featured Channels” list that provides a quick link to channels such as CDC Streaming Health and HHS.

Three Reasons Why It’s Important for Emergency Management:  

  1. Eyes: According to Tech Crunch, as of January 2012, YouTube had 4 billion views….per DAY!
  2. Stickiness: Adding video content to your website or blog increases the time people spend on your site. According to“Virtually 60% of respondents said they would watch video previous to reading text on the same webpage, and 22% said they generally liked watching video more than browsing text…” In other words, if you have video they stay, if you don’t they leave.
  3. Ability to Share: Video content produced on either Vimeo or YouTube is highly shareable. The viewer simply clicks “Share” and is given the choice of posting the entire video to any of the most popular social networks. There is also an “embed” option. For example, the video below has been embedded on this blog, and people can click on the video and then share it to their own Facebook page. (You do have to choose “Watch on YouTube” in order for the share options to appear.) The ability to share also means that your agency can search for preparedness videos created by other organizations and then share them to your own network. This video, created by the City of Houston with funding from DHS, was widely circulated on social sites by other emergency managers and has been viewed over a million times. (Notice closed caption option only appears when watching on

Video can be used to effectively communicate both preparedness and recovery information. As an example during the devasting tornado season of 2011 FEMA created this video below about debris clean up. Granted, people might not have been able to view the video if their homes were destroyed, unless they had a smart phone or saw it in the relief center. However, because it is shareable, there’s an opportunity for friends or family members of those impacted to see it on social networks and discuss the information with their loved ones.

Furthermore, now that the content has been created, it can be embedded (as I did below) on websites that discuss disaster preparedness and recovery so that people can see the content before a crisis. Your agency can post this content  to your own webpage, blog, Facebook page, etc.

Other uses after a disaster: 

Post disaster, not only are “how-to” videos created regarding recovery information for citizens, but “What’s happening” videos are also appearing more frequently. Ideas:

  • Upload videos of press conferences–this allows people to view the entire thing (in 10 minute segments) not just what the press decides to show.
  • Video tape responders in action–this content can be posted to your   other social sites, such as Facebook, and demonstrates what activities you are accomplishing–again, bypassing the media as the messenger.
  • Post videos of damage to prevent people from doing “disaster tours” in person. After a crisis people tend to be voyeuristic (in Monson after the tornado there were traffic jams due to people coming to see the damage) they want to see what happened. Creating a short video that shows the damage can allow people to understand what occurred, will help provide context (e.g. why recovery is taking so long) and might encourage donations; hopefully, it will also discourage site-seeing. See this video below from the Joplin Independent School District as an example of this.


Watch this “how-to” screen cast from the International Association of the Chiefs of Police” sponsored by the Department of Justice.

Accessible Communication. It's the Law!


According to the Massachusetts Social Media Legal Toolkit: “Agencies using social media sites must provide a link on the landing page to the accessibility policies, if any, of their third party social media host.  Prior to securing a social media identity, agencies must assess and either correct, or provide an accommodation for, any significant accessibility issues associated with the social media site. Regardless of the accessibility of the third party host’s social media tools, agencies remain responsible for ensuring that the content that they post online, either from their own employees or external social media users, is accessible.”

How to make videos accessible is not necessarily an easy task.  YouTube itself has this guidance:

How to create captions and subtitles on YouTube

Captions and subtitles are the dialog of a video in written text format. Sometimes they also include information to help folks follow the dialog, like descriptions of music, phones ringing, and other sounds in a video’s audio track.

Captions and subtitles help make videos accessible to a wider audience by helping folks – especially those who are hard-of-hearing or who speak a different language – understand the audio track to follow along. Captions are in the same language as the video’s audio track while subtitles are in a different language.

You can add captions/subtitles to videos you’ve uploaded. It’s optional but strongly encouraged to make your videos available to as many people as possible.

For more information, please see the following Help Center articles:

Another Resource: Ohio State University’s Web Accessibility Center provides a good “how-to” do captioning which you can find here.

Official Policy Seal

Consider: Policy

Massachusetts: STANDARD EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY (Excerpt from exhibit 3 From the Legal Toolkit)

Insert this language below on your YouTube channel or your website.


To both increase transparency and save money on video hosting and streaming, [INSERT AGENCY NAME] publishes all of our video content, including press releases and to our YouTube channel at [INSERT URL TO YOUTUBE CHANNEL] and embed the videos back on our site.

The [INSERT AGENCY NAME] is responsible solely for the content uploaded to the official YouTube channel, and not for any related videos or linked videos linked from other users, nor for any advertising or other content contained on the YouTube website.

Also note that this video share is hosted by YouTube and is governed by YouTube’s separate website policies, including its Privacy Policy [HOTLINK TO PRIVACY POLICY] and Terms of Service [HOTLINK TO TOS].  These policies apply to your use of YouTube.  For questions, please contact [email contact at agency where user can request information].


privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Consider: Privacy

When posting video content on public platforms, such as YouTube, privacy issues can be a huge concern. As a Google post points out: “.. exposure can be risky to the citizens shooting the footage and the people who appear in their videos.”
There is help with this problem. YouTube has a new face blurring tool “that represents a first step toward providing visual anonymity in video.” Although this  feature was designed with videos of activists in war-torn counties in mind, it will also help when posting content, for example, with children whose parents refuse to sign the release form (a sample release form can be found in the legal toolkit–Exhibit 8) or when obtaining a release form is not possible.


This is a lot of info. We hope you will use this page as a resource in the future if you are not ready to stand-up a channel today. Good luck!

More Resources: