Tag Archives: Christchurch

Guest blog post: Steve Ahern – collaboration in the real world

As a broadcaster and broadcast trainer, who has been drawn into the sphere of emergency media only recently, I know there are many more people who know much more than me about it. Kristin’s blog puts her in a very special position to comment from the viewpoint of a practitioner and also a recent victim of disaster. I agree totally with her points about local information in the recovery stage, which is much less of a priority for many media than covering the disaster itself. There has been a lot of talk about the recovery aspect from the Australian community radio sector, who are the closest to the community and well placed to help in recovery. The most recent example is UGFM after the Victorian bushfires. I look forward to hearing more of Kristin’s story at the conference.

 My own viewpoint comes from the background of a former broadcast manager and now an international trainer, and I hope I can make a contribution in helping media understand emergency services and vice versa.

I have found that understanding the pressures on both sides helps media and emergency services staff work better together. Finding common ground and realising that both media and emergency services both aim to help people and save lives, is a good starting point. Honestly understanding the pressures faced by media – such as deadlines and highly competitive editors, and by emergency services – such as the constraints of law and agency protocols, is another good place to start in achieving better cooperation through finding common ground.

In a project initiated by the Attorney General’s Department, I developed a training program where these things are discussed, with the aim of creating a better working relationship between media and emergency services. I have now delivered the program in a few different places and so far so good in achieving better understandings on both sides. The project is just one small part in the many steps being taken by everyone to make sure the media and emergency services work well together for the public good in times of emergency.

I am writing this blog from Afghanistan. Here is an example of extreme conditions where some of the principles we will talk about at the upcoming conference are desperately needed to help rebuild the country. I will tell you more about it at the conference.

– Steve, www.steveahern.com.au

Steve Ahern is an international broadcast training consultant, broadcaster, author and media commentator, and will deliver a paper at the EMPA conference on collaboration between emergency services and the media.

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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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