Category Archives: Christchurch

Guest blog post: Dr Axel Bruns – social media and emergencies

From the Queensland floods to the Christchurch earthquake and the tsunami in Japan, the major disasters which we’ve already experienced during these first few months of 2011 have already demonstrated that social media has now found a place in emergency management. Social media is not replacing existing media, of course, but providing an important additional channel both for sharing information about the crisis itself, as well as for gathering first-hand information from those directly affected by the it. Managed appropriately, social media can become an important tool for emergency authorities and local residents alike.

In the Mapping Online Publics research project at Queensland University of Technology, we’re interested in the use of social media (including blogs, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr) by Australians in general, and during acute events in particular. Based in Brisbane, we’ve experienced first-hand the role of Twitter and Facebook during the recent floods in Queensland, and the excellent use made of those tools by the Queensland Police Service in particular, and we’ve continued to track the role of Twitter in Christchurch and Japan as well as in other emergency situations.

To do so, we’ve also developed a range of innovative new research methods for tracking, capturing, and analysing social media activities around specific events and issues, and we’re working with a number of national and international partners to further develop and apply these methodologies. Already, we’re able to track the evolution of crisis events on Twitter on an almost real-time basis, and we’re looking to apply those insights in working with emergency authorities to further enhance their strategies for using social media platforms as part of their overall emergency media responses.

I’m looking forward to finding out more from the EMPA community about how they’re currently approaching social media, and how we might collaborate on further approaches. In the meantime, please feel free to visit our project website for a snapshot of our research activities.

— Axel , @snurb_dot_info, http://www.mappingonlinepublics.net/

Dr Axel Bruns is an Associate Professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, and will deliver at paper at the EMPA conference on tracking crises in social media.

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Guest blog post: Kristin Hoskin – A conversation on Christchurch

It’s been a bumpy few months in Christchurch. I never would have thought six months ago that my summer would be dominated by three earthquake responses. But it has.
 
Working with a variety of government entities I’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to see first hand how communications has, and sometimes, hasn’t worked. As well as being involved in the response effort regarding building assessment, and then the review of other facets of response (education and infrastructure), I’ve been one of those on the receiving end of public information too.
 
Only this weekend I became very excited (as did some of my friends) when a chemical toilet arrived at my front door. And the highlight of last week was being able to turn the lights on throughout my house. I can hardly wait until the day when I don’t have to boil water before drinking it or brushing my teeth. As for going back to the gym, or being able to bus to work, that remains a distant dream.
 
When I was first invited to speak at the EMPA conference I was going to talk about all the great lessons learned and applied in September, but five months and two more noteworthy shakes later, the personal experiences associated with living with earthquakes offers a more pertinent message for those tasked with providing relevant public information to an affected community.
 
It isn’t the dramatic building collapses that people want to know about, it’s how to get the kids to school safely, when their workplace will likely be able to be accessed, and what supermarkets are open. People living in an affected area aren’t concerned with the statistics regarding how much of the city is damaged, they want to know when their neighbourhood is likely to be restored and whether they should leave town or tough it out for a few more days.
 
Overall Christchurch’s earthquake responses have been handled very well, with the media being an active partner in spreading information. Even so, there are still opportunities to build a greater and more needs-driven role for the media following emergencies – truly making the media a partner in community recovery, and not just an observer.

– Kristin Hoskin, @kristinhoskin, Linkedin, Kestrel New Zealand

Kristen Hoskin  will deliver a keynote at EMPA on her experiences with response and recovery for the Christchurch earthquakes.

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