MADRID – June 16 2017
The President of VOST Spain, Rafael Gálvez Rivas, received the Bronze Medal of Merit for Civil Protection this Friday from the Minister of the Interior of the Government of the Kingdom of Spain, Juan Ignacio Zoido. This decoration recognizes the VOST Spain group collectively, an honor for the work of all teams of digital volunteers in Spain that have been implemented in all the autonomous communities.
VOST Spain is a non-profit association whose main task is to collaborate with the Emergency Services and the State Security Forces and Corps to help them stop fake news, rumors and hoaxes in emergency situations and to be able to disseminate official information necessary to citizens for their self-protection.
The first team of digital emergency volunteers (VOST) was established in Spain in 2012 with the intention of stopping hoaxes that emerged during the response to the large forest fires that were raging in the Iberian Peninsula, including those of Carlet, Cortes de Pallás, Andilla and the Tenerife, La Palma, La Jonquera and Alt Èmporda.
During these fires, the hoaxes asking for chain saws, trucks and requesting retweets of false information escalated to the point that could have endangered the lives of the participants and of the citizens, were it not for the denials made on the local social networks by ‘influencers’ in the world of emergencies, such as fire analyst Javier Blanco and health emergency technician Juan Luis De Castellví. Thus, a group of professionals working in the field of emergency services, led by the journalist Luis Serrano, then responsible for communication of the Madrid 112, decided to import the VOST model that originated in the United States and to create VOST Spain. Among those professionals were the current president of VOST Spain, social media emergency management professional Rafael Gálvez Rivas, fire analyst Javier Blanco, DYA member Jokin Zubieta, and other volunteers who collaborated to launch @VOSTSpain on August 2, 2012.
From that moment, the VOST developed a model based on the monitoring of social networks, mainly Twitter, to detect rumors and share information with the emergency services and forces and bodies of State Security, with the objective of dealing with the disinformation that runs through social networks in situations of uncertainty such as forest fires, terrorist attacks, train or aircraft accidents or any other circumstance in which it is required.
Heroes With and Without Uniforms | #EspirituVOST
At the June 16 2017 presentation of the annual Civil Protection Merit Medals in Madrid, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido thanked 58 national and local police, civil guards, soldiers, firefighters, Red Cross staff and anonymous citizens, “heroes with and without uniforms” for their commitment to the security and protection of citizens. Zoido extolled the values such distinguished recipients represent — solidarity, sacrifice and the spirit of service — also known as #EspirituVOST in the Spanish speaking #VOST community.
A reflection of the best everyday reality in Spain
During the awards event, the Interior Minister cited as an example the “lesson” offered by Ignacio Echeverría, the Spaniard who died in the bombing of London when he confronted the terrorists and tried to aid a policeman, saying that his behavior is also a “benchmark” for the construction of a better future and evidence that “Spanish society has its greatest asset in its citizens, in Spain.” And “That’s why you are a reflection of the best everyday reality in Spain.”
Blue is the Color of Collaboration
VOST Spain has been awarded the Bronze Medal with Blue Badge. Each medal bears a distinctive color on the ribbon, which may be red, blue or white. They are assigned according to the type of acts for which it is granted:
- Red: heroism or solidarity
- Blue: collaboration
- White: cooperation.
VOST Spain has five hundred volunteers who occasionally travel to the scene to collaborate with emergency services and security forces, while other colleagues monitor the networks and identify fake news and hoaxes related to the emergency or disaster situation, providing a reliable and trustworthy resource for official information directly to citizen worldwide.
Receiving the Bronze Medal for Civil Protection for VOST Spain from the Minister of the Interior of the Government of the Kingdom of Spain, President Rafael Gálvez Rivas commented, “This is everyone’s merit, a pride for the whole VOST family. Hopefully with this and our activities, we help everyone.”
Many congratulations from the VOSG Global Advisory Council and colleagues across the world for the honor and recognition by the Government of Spain for the magnificent achievements by VOST Spain as a leader in the #VOST field.
You can watch the Presentation here:
— VOSTspain (@vostSPAIN) June 16, 2017