Course Title: Crisis and Risk Communications

Supplemental Considerations

Download 132.11 Kb.
Date conversion03.05.2018
Size132.11 Kb.
1   2   3

Supplemental Considerations:

Processing and Analyzing Social Media in a Crisis

kim26stephens | June 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |

Tags: Facebook, social media, Twitter, YouTube |

Categories: Social Media and Emergency Management |


Post by: Kim Stephens

One valid concern that almost always comes up when discussing social media with an audience of emergency managers is:  "How do we keep up with all of this information in a crisis?" The sheer volume of social media content can be overwhelming, especially after a disaster. For example, after the flooding crisis in Australia just one of the Queensland Police Service's facebook posts received 11,000 comments--they regularly had over a 1000 comments on each of their posts during the height of the crisis.  As another example, immediately after the earthquake in Japan, a Mashable article stated that  the number of tweets from Tokyo topped 1,200 per minute.

The fear is obvious, how can emergency managers, already stretched during a crisis, analyze that volume of information in order to 1. Ensure that an important piece is not missed; 2. Enhance situational awareness, and 3. Respond in a timely manner to citizens that ask direct questions through these social media platforms. The analogy of drinking from a fire hose is applicable.

During the Social Media Chat (#SMEMchat) this past Friday (archived here by the wonderful @EmrgncyTraffic) we were discussing a related problem, too many social media platforms.  FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate tweeted:

This concept of using computer processing or using geospatial search tools to map feedback  is  currently being developed by many different people and organizations.  All of these types of applications usually involve a way to sort, analyze and then place the social media data on a visualization tool (e.g. a map). Although Ushahidi  and Project EPIC were two of first, others are entering the marketplace, including the GeoVista Center of Penn State University. They have recently built a tool they are calling SensePlace2. Here's their description:  "a geovisual analytics application that forages place-time-attribute information from the Twitterverse and supports crisis management through visually-enabled sensemaking with the information derived." Currently, this version only supports the processing of tweets.

Outsourcing to Trusted Agents

Other SMEM chats have focused on  how to get help with social media data processing, and one of suggestion is to outsource this task to a predetermined group of "trusted agents," as stated by Chris Hall aka TheFireTracker2. This could be a group of  people that are well-known to you personally, such as the local CERT team, or it could be people you have come to trust but have never met (e.g. I have never met TheFireTracker IRL--in real life) .

The Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST)  is an idea that is currently in the development stage and is designed around this concept of outsourcing. The brainchild of Jeff Philips, a SMEM thought-leader, the VOST is designed to help with the tasks of monitoring, archiving and cataloging  social media content during a crisis. One great thing about monitoring social media is that you do not have to be physically co-located with emergency response personnel; monitoring can take place from anywhere, including from a home personal computer. The team Jeff has assembled, via social media of course,  have been testing this concept during conferences with large amounts of twitter traffic (such as the 140 conference). The team is currently collaborating to write a White Paper describing the details of the concept. I'm looking forward to its publication.

These are just a few examples of solutions to this data processing quandary. I'll be writing about some other new tools in the coming weeks.


Anna, Cara, “China Allows Bloggers, Others to Spread Quake News,” Associated Press,, May 18, 2008
Aune, Sean, “China Allows Bloggers Freedom in Earthquake Aftermath” Mashable, May 18, 2008
BBC News, 2008, “Burmese Blog the Cyclone,”, May 8, 2008
Blow, Charles M., 2008, “Farewell, Fair Weather,” New York Times, May 31, 2008
Bowman, Shayne and Chris Willis, 2003, “We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information,” The Media Center at the American Press Institute, 2003
Burma News, 2008, “Burmese Journals Face Restriction on Cyclone Coverage,”,

May 13, 2008

Catone, Josh, 2007. “Online Citizen Journalism Now Undeniably Mainstream, ReadWriteWeb,

October 26, 2007

Cooper, Glenda, 2007. “Burma’s Bloggers Show Power of Citizen Journalism in a Crises,” Reuters Alert Net,

October 3, 2007

Fan, Maureen, 2008. “Citizen Groups Step Up in China,” Washington Post, May 29, 2008
FEMA, 2007. National Incident Management System: FEMA 501/Draft August 2007. Washington, DC: FEMA, August 2007.
FEMA, 1998. FEMA Emergency Information Field Guide (condensed). Washington, DC: FEMA October 1998.
Ferrara, Lou, 2007. “AP’s ‘NowPublic’ Initiative,” Remarks at the Associated Press Managing Editors’ Conference, “Fast Forward to the Future,”, October 2, 2007
Gillmor, Dan and Sanjana Hattotuwa, 2007 “Citizen Journalism and Humanitarian Aid: Boon or Bust?” ICT for Peacebuilding,, 2007
Gillmor, Dan, 2006, “We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People,” O’Reilly Media Inc., 2006
Glaser, Mark, 2007. “California Wildfire Coverage by Local Media, Blogs, Twitter, Maps and More,” MediaShift,

October 25, 2007

Global Voices Online, “Myanmar Cyclone 2008,”

Global Voices Online, “Sichuan Earthquake 2008

Hattotuwa, Sanjana, 2007, “Who is afraid of citizen journalists?” Communicating Disasters, TVA Asia Pacific and UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok, 2007
Kettl, Donald F., 2005. The Worst is Yet to Come: Lessons from September 11 to Hurricane Katrina. Fels Institute of Government. University of Pennsylvania. September 2005.
Laituri, Melinda and Kris Kodrich, 2008, “On Line Disaster Response Community: People as Sensors of High Magnitude Disasters Using Internet GIS,” Colorado State University, 2008
May, Albert L., 2006, “First Informers in the Disaster Zone: The Lessons of Katrina,” The Aspen Institute, 2006 2008.
MSNBC, 2008. “China Allows Bloggers to Spread the Quake News, May 18, 2008
Rincon, Juliana, 2008. “Myanmar: Citizen Videos in Cyclone Nargis Aftermath,” Reuters Global News Blog,, May 16, 2008
Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, 2006, “A Failure of Initiative: Final Report of the Special Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina,” Government Printing Office, February 15, 2006,

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 2006. “Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared.” S. Rept. 109-322, Government Printing Office, May, 2006.

Shirky, Clay, 2008 “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations,” The Penguin Press, 2008
Stabe, Martin, 2007. “California Wildfires: A Round Up” OJB Online Journalism Blog,

October 25, 2007

Sweeney, James P., 2007. Copley News Service. November 5, 2007.

Townsend, Francis F., 2006, “The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned,” The White House, February 2006.

Trinity Atomic Web Site. 2008. 2008.
Wagner, Mitch, 2007. “Google Maps and Twitter Are Essential Resources for California Fires,”

October 24, 2007

Information Week,
Washkuch, Frank, 2008. “Relief Groups Turn to Twitter Amid Crises,” PR Week,

May 20, 2008


15 -

: hiedu
hiedu -> Bibliography of Emergency Management & Related References On-Hand
hiedu -> Emergency Management & Related References On-Hand B. Wayne Blanchard, Ph. D, Cem may 24, 2007 Draft
hiedu -> Emergency Management in Canada: Near Misses and Moving Targets
hiedu -> Disaster Management and India: Responding Internally and Simultaneously in Neighboring Countries Kailash Gupta, be(Elec.), Mba(iima)1 Introduction
hiedu -> Chapter Outline
hiedu -> "Notes of the Day" (1) Blizzard, Mid-West – From the Weather Channel and National Weather Service
hiedu -> Hazard & Disaster Film and Video Annotation Project
hiedu -> The Future of Emergency Management The Future of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
hiedu -> Session No. 23 Course: The Political and Policy Basis of Emergency Management Session
hiedu -> The legal impact of emergency responder actions and decisions: The need for a national immunity law

1   2   3

The database is protected by copyright © 2017
send message

    Main page