News & Features
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a 75 percent chance that this year’s hurricane season, which began June 1, will be equal to or worse than average (the season has already produced two hurricanes, a benchmark that isn’t reached until Aug. 28 in an average year). Last year’s destruction from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria caused more than $270 billion in losses. Even now, 10 months after the last of those storms, many Americans continue to grapple with their losses and unsettled insurance claims, and many communities struggle with how and where to rebuild.
When the media takes notice of digital diplomacy in action, they call on Moira Whelan, a founding partner at BlueDot Strategies, for expert insights. Answering questions for the Observer, she calls on her experience at the U.S. State Department shed light on the present and future of digital diplomacy.
In 2017, Americans were stunned to learn how social media was utilized by foreign entities to destabilize the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Shockingly, the State Department had completely directed focus on social media, specifically Facebook, prior to said election as a means of expanding digital diplomacy. Efforts to counter fake news were attempted, but as effective as these sources are for reach, the U.S. government has to back away before their credibility and trust are lost completely.
With more natural disasters coming more frequently, the “disaster-recovery” model is no longer useful. According to ex-FEMA official Lars Anderson, disaster response is due for a paradigm shift.
The truth is that over the course of the storm, more than 24 trillion gallons of water have fallen on Southeast Texas and southern Louisiana. This recovery will take years and billions of dollars. People continue to be evacuated and tens of thousands of residents will need temporary shelter and transportation to jobs and schools.
Moira Whelan says the Trump administration has few meaningful contacts worldwide. Because of that, only a handful of countries extended aid post-Hurricane Harvey.
Anderson is part of the NGLCC and believes in its certification process. “I do a lot of work for organizations that aren’t LGBT-owned, but I thought it was important to get the certification because it shows that I’m a member of the community. I care about the community and just to be part of the network. I think it’s really important.”
When dozens of news outlets pushed back against Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to bar journalists from traveling on his plane, CNN Reliable Sources host Ben Stelter asked BlueDot’s Moira Whelan for comment. Her expertise in international engagement and diplomacy, and the role of the press in ensuring American strength abroad, come through.
Founding Partner Moira Whelan writes how Trump sets the bar for how people the world over perceive and respond to the American government and its people while extremists around the world are learning from the 2016 U.S. presidential election about what they can do in their own countries.
Watch BlueDot Strategies founding partner Moira Whelan at TEDxStockholmSalon 2014 as she expands on the direction the U.S. government is taking to strengthen their digital presence.