Social Media and Crisis (Emergency 2.0)


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A presentation on the growing importance of social media in an emergency situation, and the need for governments and NGOs to be able to respond to an insatiable need for information. Covers case studies in Victoria and other jurisdictions -- including an online volunteer recognition campaign, a social media campaign (with Facebook and iPhone application) to help citizens be ready for bushfires.

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  • Introduction - What this presentation will be covering: Changing social, demographic and technological trends in Australia and overseas What’s happening in the social media landscape The emergence of Web 2.0, Gov2.0 and Emergency 2.0 Three pedestals of 2.0 – collaboration, openness and transparency, engagement Case studies of social media being used in crises and emergencies What the Victorian Government is doing What the Victorian Department of Justice is doing Next steps Keys to success Avoiding the traps Taking questions at the end
  • The Australian Government’s roll out of high-speed broadband to 90% of Australian homes over the next decade will see speeds of up to 100mps – no more trips to the video store Never wait for a download again Instant, live video conferencing People will be hyper-connected
  • According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (2009), 36% of us use our mobiles to check email and do other things, a growth rate of 80%. In the 2008 survey a year earlier, only 7% of people used for social networking -- that’s now leapt to 32%. One-fifth use their 3G smart phones to web browse every day. (Source: Now more than 1 million smart phones in Australia. Image © Chris Jordan
  • Image: © AP Photo
  • * Visualisation of the internet * 150 billion pages 1.7 billion users around the globe (25% penetration rate) 380% annual growth Source: http:// /
  • Australians spend 27.2hrs online each month Up 60% in two years One-third of leisure time Australians are now one of the biggest users of social media in the world Average user of social media visits sites five days a week and checks in four times a day (equivalent of one hour) source: Anderson Analytics 2009 Social media can be used powerfully by NGOs: – Microloans, over $100m loaned in four years, driven through social media (source: UN Department of Public Information)
  • Image by Johann Zoffany, 1779 The death of Captain James Cook (© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London) The natives are taking over… Digital immigrants will soon be in the minority In 10 years Gen-Y will make up more than half of the workforce Next year, more Australians will be aged under 40 than over (Source: ABS Population Pyramid) The value of using Web 2.0 media in communication planning with Gen Y is clear. They already use this media on their own and their workplace presence will continue to grow in size. Employers that successfully integrate Web 2.0 media into engagement and education strategies will get results faster with this generation. Gen Y not just using it to socialise, but get their jobs done more efficiently. There is now an emerging preference for Web 2.0 in employee communication (source: AON Consulting 2009)
  • Online most preferred channel Visits to government sites up 10.4% Outstripping US and UK usage Referrals from social media sites up 16.1% on last year (source: Hitwise Australia, March 2009)
  • Governments around the world are dealing with increasingly complex problems: Ageing population Health care Climate change Has to be a new way of doing business and creating public policy
  • Let’s take a look at some cases…
  • The reality of a crisis today Erupts with unprecedented speed An insatiable thirst for news Anyone can break news Porous boundaries between social and traditional media (From Tactical Transparency) Operational help: Social media can relieve phone calls
  • Californian bushfires – twitter, Google maps, schools and business closures Refer article in New Scientist about research paper by Leysia Palen of the University of Colorado
  • Virginia Tech shootings – Wikipedia page created within 90 mins. Facebook group (I’m OK at VT) just 20 minutes after.
  • Chinese Earthquake: First message posted by Twitter user  scribeoflight  at 2:35:33pm Beijing local time, and said simply: “earthquake. not sure how big. maybe four”. The earthquake occurred at 2:28pm. US Geological Survey operates a “did you feel it” site for locals to report seismic activity
  • Red Cross – has set up a twitter account “Safe and Well” for use in a disaster Traffic alerts major use in emergencies – online updates will help people plan escape has 1,506 of twitter names used by various levels of government (2009)
  • 1 million blog posts about Haiti Half in the first week Analysis by Danielle Lazarowitz from the US Department of Public Information Non Governmental Organisations (DPINGO) suggests four types of posts First response Appeal for volunteers and donations Informational Keeping a crisis in the news Mobile technology Text 4636 with emergency info and location Finding people, relieving needs at tent camps $35m raised using mobile phones Source:
  • Victorian Department of Justice developed a social media widget, with support from Bullseye Digital Possibilities, to alleviate the pressures for information from the CFA and DSE websites. Pulled information from Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and official CFA RSS feed. Built using
  • After Black Saturday bushfires, Victorian Government invested in a TV campaign to demonstrate support for the 90,000 emergency services volunteers (including CFA, SES, Life Saving Victoria, CERT). The campaign was supported by an online call-to-action, with a special website built so people could leave a message of support for the volunteers ( We built an online community of more than 10,000 supporters, through a grass-roots social media campaign using Facebook and Twitter.
  • The custom site allows people to stick their own virtual post-it note, with a message of thanks to the 90,000-plus emergency services volunteers in Victoria. The campaign originally ran for three months, but site has continued to be maintained because of the popularity. Also contains blogs, YouTube videos, Flickr photos and integrates with Facebook using Facebook Connect. Built using Joomla, open-source freeware. A widget provides linkages between traditional webpages and social media channels. Also uses a Google maps mashup to display location of people posting messages, to get some neighbourhood rivalry going – whose town can send the most messages? Visitors to the site can join the associated Facebook fan page with a single click by selecting “Become a fan”. Allows the two sites to essentially ‘feed’ off one another.
  • Chief commissioner of Victoria Police was one of the high-profile Victorians recruited to show support for the campaign.
  • This was a message left by a volunteer.
  • Some examples of the types of authentic engagement received.
  • This photo was submitted using the Facebook fans page. The caption reads: I took this during the Black Saturday campaign and edited it in Photoshop when I got home, the young man in question is from my Region and on his second ever strike team.
  • Facebook is where people are More than half of Australia’s internet population is registered on Facebook People already have an established profile Are already active and contributing online Keen to build their reputation by being seen to contribute to the cause To put our success in comparison, following number of fans: Bureau of Meteorology - 632 fans Victoria Police - 1,330 fans That’s Melbourne - 3,189 fans Premier John Brumby - 332 fans
  • Image by Spekulator:
  • Image by Spekulator:
  • The FireReady campaign is the biggest investment in fire preparation in Victoria’s history. Is a long term behavioural change campaign to get people to think about their fire preparedness *before* and during the fire season. Involves TV commercials, radio and television advertisements, supported by an online campaign and social media. Run by the Department of Justice, frees up the CFA to concentrate on community engagement and grass-roots face-to-face education.
  • The Facebook app links back to the self-assessment kits on the CFA’s website
  • Also shows real time fire information using the OSOM (One Source One Message) RSS feed from the CFA control centre.
  • A quick way of people finding out the main things they need to do to be fire ready.
  • The official iPhone app is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes store via Combines the GPS location-aware functions of the phone, to plot the nearest fires – as well as linking into the Bureau of Meteorology warnings and fire danger ratings (during the fire season).
  • 185,000 applications on the App Store (March 2010)
  • Ladder image by Antonio Jiménez Alonso ( )
  • Image by Peter Galbraith ( )
  • Image by Evgeniy Lukyanov ( )
  • Social Media and Crisis (Emergency 2.0)

    1. 1. Social Media and Emergencies Darren Whitelaw Department of Justice @DarrenWhitelaw Emergency Management Forum – 28 April 2010 Unless indicated otherwise, content in this presentation is licensed by @ darrenwhitelaw :
    2. 2. Oh, the times, they are a changin’
    3. 3. Super-fast internet almost here Image by Lucretious
    4. 4. Smart phones are big.
    5. 5. 125,000 Australia, July-Sept 2007
    6. 6. 45,000,000 2010
    7. 7. 124,596 12 March 2010
    8. 8. People really like the internet. Image by The Opte Project
    9. 9. Social media is booming Image by Colin Adamson
    10. 10. The natives are taking over… © National Maritime Museum (Grenwich, London)
    11. 13. Public policy is getting more complex. Image by Patrick Moore
    12. 14. So what does all this mean for us? Web 1.0
    13. 15. So what does all this mean for us? Web 2.0
    14. 16. It’s not about the technology Image by Dr Blog Clot
    15. 17. Web 2.0 Gov 2.0 Emergency 2.0 1) Collaboration 2) Openness 3) Empowerment
    16. 18. Image by American Libraries
    17. 19. Online is now critical in emergencies.
    18. 20. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul>
    19. 21. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </li></ul>
    20. 22. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Earthquake 2008 </li></ul>
    21. 23. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Earthquake 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Red-Cross @safeandwell </li></ul>
    22. 24. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Earthquake 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Red-Cross @safeandwell </li></ul><ul><li>UK Emergency school closures </li></ul>
    23. 25. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Earthquake 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Red-Cross @safeandwell </li></ul><ul><li>UK Emergency school closures </li></ul><ul><li>Haiti earthquake </li></ul>@ CarelPedre
    24. 26. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Earthquake 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Red-Cross @safeandwell </li></ul><ul><li>UK Emergency school closures </li></ul><ul><li>Haiti earthquake </li></ul><ul><li>CFA No1 trending topic on Twitter 9/2/09 </li></ul>
    25. 27. Showing support for our volunteers.
    26. 33. <ul><li>“ matter what colour their uniform, they did a wonderful job against odds that the human mind can’t fathom” </li></ul>
    27. 36. Over 9,300 fans and still growing…
    28. 37. An active, engaged community... 9,300 x 150 Image by Spekulator
    29. 38. An active, engaged community... 9,300 x 150 = 1,209,000 Image by Spekulator
    30. 39. Helping people get ready for the fire season.
    31. 41. Real time info, direct from the CFA control centre
    32. 42. Helps people find out how fire ready they are
    33. 43. And taps into the power of family and friends…
    34. 44. … at the touch of a button
    35. 45. A handy tool for your pocket
    36. 46. With some great results after only one month… <ul><li>Over 500 downloads each week </li></ul><ul><li>Already ranked 18th in ‘Top News’ category </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ahead of the Wall Street Journal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just behind Time Magazine </li></ul></ul>
    37. 47. It’s getting some good ratings
    38. 48. And we’re learning from the feedback
    39. 51. So what’s next for FireReady social media? <ul><li> Viral promotion </li></ul><ul><li> Gather feedback </li></ul><ul><li> Update for the next fire season </li></ul>
    40. 52. <ul><li>Can your procedures handle it? </li></ul><ul><li>How’s your social media policy? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you make barriers for staff? </li></ul><ul><li>Who’s monitoring social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you resourced appropriately? </li></ul>Some things to think about…
    41. 53. So what have we learnt? <ul><li>Go where people are </li></ul><ul><li>Make it easy to share </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage existing networks </li></ul><ul><li>Perpetual beta </li></ul><ul><li>Move fast to harness support </li></ul><ul><li>Measure and report </li></ul><ul><li>Give up the illusion of control </li></ul>
    42. 54. Whew! That’s it… questions?
    43. 55. Re-using this presentation? The fine print… <ul><li>Parts of this presentation not under copyright or licensed to others (as indicated) have been made available under the Creative Commons Licence 2.5 </li></ul><ul><li>Put simply, this means: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>you are free to share, copy and distribute this work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>you can remix and adapt this work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Under the following conditions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>you must attribute the work to the author: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Darren Whitelaw ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>you must share alike – so if you alter or build upon this work you have to keep these same conditions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unless stated otherwise, the information in this presentation is the personal view of the author and does not represent official policy or position of his employer </li></ul>