ICOM Canada launches Digital Disaster Preparedness Review Project

//ICOM Canada launches Digital Disaster Preparedness Review Project

ICOM Canada launches Digital Disaster Preparedness Review Project

Project participants

Project Lead: Ben Fast, Digital Content & Outreach Coordinator, ICOM Canada

Project Sponsor: Dr. Elka Weinstein, Vice President, ICOM Canada

If you have any questions or wish to contribute to this project, please continue reading below and/or email icomcanada@gmail.com.

Project Background

With Canadian museum closures caused by COVID-19, museums have had to adapt to long-term digital work environments with little notice. This digital work includes turning primary services to digital offerings, providing increased digital access to collections, managing remote staff, and more. While many museums have embraced this challenge with creativity and innovation, many also quickly laid off non-digital employees, suffered from a lack of digital or staff capacity in adapting to remote work or providing digital services, or were significantly impacted by revenue loss that could impact future digital capacity building initiatives.

Could museums have transitioned more easily to digital work environments, offering digital services and experiences while maintaining staff by modifying roles and activities if digital readiness had been incorporated into emergency preparedness plans? Can digital capacity be rapidly increased (or understood) as it becomes a new requirement for essential museum work?

ICOM Canada is undertaking a review study to determine the inclusion level of digital work in emergency planning in Canadian museums. The project will involve reviewing sector impact surveys, contextualizing Canada’s state of digital readiness and digital capacity resources within the international sector, and examining voluntarily-submitted emergency preparedness plans.


This project will result in a report (for release in November 2020) outlining the current state of digital readiness in emergency planning across the Canadian museum sector. It will attempt to frame the state of the sector within the context of other global sectors, and provide a clearer picture of required steps to increase digital readiness in case of sudden future changes to the museum sector (such as another global pandemic, climate change impacts, natural disasters, or significant changes in funding).

ICOM Canada believes this tool will be useful for museums and sector organizations to guide planning and pursue advocacy initiatives to seek increased digital capacity support. This in turn will help museums be better prepared to transition in times of change and to support staff who have changing roles (and to more easily keep staff through transitioning to new tasks rather than choosing layoffs as a first option).

How to contribute to the project

If you have any questions or wish to contribute information, please contact Ben Fast at icomcanada@gmail.com.

Provincial and Territorial Museums Associations and other related sector organizations within Canada are invited to share results from their COVID-19 impact surveys or relevant recent member surveys. We are particularly interested in information that speaks to the state of digital capacity and readiness in your province (both before and after closures, including what steps museums have taken to move to digital work), what areas museums are needing digital capacity in, and how you are monitoring or providing support for digital training and work in your province.

PTMAs are also welcome to outline what training content or resources they have relating to digital capacity building.

Museums are welcome to submit their disaster or emergency preparedness plans that include digital elements. Please consider contributing your plans if you 1) had digital actions or capacity outlined in your disaster plans prior to COVID-19 closures, or 2) have built digital actions or capacity into new disaster plans after COVID-19 closures.

Museums and individual museum professionals may also answer additional questions using this form.

International committees or special interest associations are welcome to provide contextual information about their national or sector situations using this form. Survey results are also welcome, if available.

All contributions will be recognized in the final report.

2020-06-04T16:26:20-04:00June 4th, 2020|Newsletters|