Crisis symposium to examine social media during disasters

Thursday, 31 March, 2011

Australian researchers, emergency services representatives and media organisations will convene at the ‘Social media in times of crisis’ symposium in April to discuss the role of social tools like Facebook and Twitter during future disasters.

“The use of social media during recent crises has demonstrated the potential of these tools for disaster communication,” says Dr Jean Burgess, a media researcher from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at Queensland University of Technology.

Attendees will share their experiences of social media’s role in crisis communication and discuss how to achieve better integration of existing social media strategies across key agencies, avoid the spreading of misinformation during disasters and maximise the efficacy of these tools during a disaster.

Burgess and co-researcher Associate Professor Axel Bruns will present findings on the role of social media during the recent Queensland floods and New Zealand’s Christchurch earthquake.

Burgess says that compared to Queensland during the floods, New Zealand Twitter users seemed to respond more quickly and efficiently to the Christchurch earthquake in February.

“Due to conventions established during the previous earthquake in 2010, when the February disaster occurred New Zealand social media users and authorities knew what the most reliable information channels were and had already agreed on an ‘official’ hashtag,” she says. “Within 2-3 days, there was a coordinated flow of recovery information among local residents, including everything from accommodation to porta-loos.

The symposium will also discuss:

  • Queensland Police using social media as a means of constant communication
  • An emergency 2.0 Wiki project with the gov2qld community

The event is organised by the EIDOS institute, Queensland University of Technology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for CCI. It will be held at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, on 4 April 2011 at 9.45 am. Registration is required for entry.

For more event details and registration, visit the EIDOS institute event page.

Further information on the use of social media during a crisis can be found at http://www.mappingonlinepublics.net/.

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