NFPA has been working with international stakeholders for decades. Try as we might, long distances can often preclude NFPA staff from traveling to countries that are looking to learn more about codes, training, and best practices. Technology, however, is doing an impressive job of bridging the divide and providing a platform where our global counterparts can find relevant information and engage with peers.
NFPA has enjoyed a strong reputation for bringing people to the table since its inception in 1896. It is the foundation of our organization. A prime example of our ability to foster conversation, share resources and proactively address issues is NFPA’s newest platform, Xchange. The online community launched midway through 2015, and currently connects over 30,000 users worldwide with like-minded professionals and NFPA subject matter experts. Global traffic now makes up 35% of Xchange visits; increasing in the last year by 373% with the greatest interest stemming from Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and Africa. Community members hail from 133 countries and conducted 93,000 sessions in the past year. Conversely, domestic Xchange engagement increased by 23 times, year-over-year. And while the majority of nfpa.org users are based in the United States, we have seen a huge bump in visitors from China in the past year. They now own the #2 spot (displacing Canada and India).
One corner of the globe that has been particularly engaged with NFPA has been Latin and South America. Currently, 18 countries in Latin America have adopted, in some way, codes and standards including NFPA 1, NFPA 70 and NFPA 101. Dozens more use NFPA standards, research and educational offerings to influence fire and life safety protocol.
Under the direction of international senior project manager Gabriela Mazal, NFPA upgraded platforms over the past year to enhance engagement with Latin American first responders, AHJs, building professionals, businesses and government officials. In March, NFPA introduced an adaptable digital edition of NFPA Journal Latinoamericano® (JLA), the bi-monthly publication for Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries or for those that prefer to read content in Spanish or Portuguese. Launched in 1998, JLA features high-quality news, information and code-focused stories from the award-winning NFPA Journal®, as well as articles written by respected Latin American thought leaders. The new JLA design offers readers a faster, more dynamic experience via a wide range of devices and screen sizes. JLA’s website and Facebook pages have seen an uptick in popularity too. Between 2010 and 2015, traffic to www.nfpajla.org averaged 10-12,000 visits per month; last month traffic swelled to more than 31,000 with help from a digital marketing campaign and new search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The JLA Facebook page also improved from 5,675 followers a year ago to nearly 30,000 today.
As NFPA continues to extend its reach globally, online resources and digital assets are proving to be key avenues for international stakeholders to learn, share, and discuss fire and life safety issues.