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Social media use in emergency management

Clayton Wukich, PhD

Abstract


Objective: To identify and illustrate the range of strategies and tactics available for emergency managers using social media.

Design: This study uses content analysis of more than 80 related journal articles, research reports, and government documents as well as more than 120 newspaper articles, identified through LexisNexis search queries.

Results: Three strategies, information dissemination, monitoring real-time data, and engaging the public in a conversation and/or crowdsourcing, are available to emergency managers to augment communication practices via face-to-face contact and through traditional media outlets. Academic research has identified several message types disseminated during response operations.1,2 Message types during other emergency phases have received less attention; however, news reporting and government reports provide best practices and inform this study. This article provides the foundation for a more complete typology of emergency management messages. Relatedly, despite limited attention in the academic research, monitoring social media feeds to accrue situational awareness and interacting with others to generate a conversation and/or to coordinate collective action also take place in various forms and are discussed.

Conclusions: Findings integrate the fragmented body of knowledge into a more coherent whole and suggest that practitioners might maximize outcomes through a three-step process of information dissemination, data monitoring, and the direct engagement of diverse sets of actors to spur risk reduction efforts. However, these steps require time, personnel, and resources, which present obstacles for agencies operating under conditions of personnel and resource scarcity.


Keywords


social media, crowdsourcing, situational awareness, emergency management, public safety

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.2015.0242

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