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  • Utilization of Social Media in the East Japan Earthquake andTsunami and its EffectivenessBrett D. M. PEARY*Rajib SHAW*Yukiko TAKEUCHI**Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University(Received March 31, 2012 Accepted July 10, 2012)
  • http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/01/earthquake_in_haiti.html
  • Thailand great floods of 2011, In Oct – Nov worst floods in five decades - Social media played an unprecedented roleNo clear and consistent information from the govt. Massive increase in the use of social media.
  • Thai Govt set up the flood operation centre (FROC) at the Don Mueang airport. Used phone and website to update citizens. Initially they use the ThaiFlood website a collaboration between FROC, private sector and volunteers. Then they decided to set up their own website the FloodThailand. People did not trust the govt as the information was constantly changing and so even though FROC was providing reliable and up to date information the trust in govt was already undermined. People relied on the ThaiFlood group through the private sector.Thaiflood had an English and a Thai speaking twitter account. They have over 100,000 followersvsFlood Thailand has less than 10,000.The number of twitter users in Thailand increased from 600,000 to 720,000 in one month.
  • 3.5 millionThailand group,“RooSu Flood” have over 3.5 million views on Youtubeincreasingawareness on water-borne illnesses and common dangers infloodsSource: YoutubeImage: RooSu Flood
  • 20,000Digital Humanitarian Network curated some 20,000 social media messages compiling results for Humanitarian partnersDigital Humanitarian Network curated some 20,00 social media messages compiling results for humanitarian partnersSource:Digital Humanitarian NetworkImage: OCHA
  • Credit: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2013/04/sichuan-earthquake-recovery/100502/Rescuers make their way along a street in search of survivors after an earthquake hit Lushan County in Ya'an City, on April 21, 2013. Thousands of rescue workers combed through flattened villages in southwest China in a race to find survivors from the powerful quake as the toll of dead and missing rose past 200. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) # 


  • 1. Stewart Davies Regional Communications with Communities Officer United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • 2. August 2009 to May 2013 3 years 100 Million posts per day 537 Million users March 2006 to July 2012 6 years 50 Million posts per day 517 Million users
  • 3. •Created in 2009 •Fastest site in history to break 10 million visitor mark •57 million users •83% of users are female •People’s platform choices are driven by personal benefits, not by the technology. •Trends towards images, video, visual presentations growing rapidly.
  • 4. A disaster management tool Information consumers to producers Crowd sourcing Big, open and accessible data Resilience through social capital Users become citizens reporters Real time Resilient to infrastructure damage
  • 5. How social media was usedDisasters 2005 London Bombings Britain One of the first examples of mass social media use in a disaster Mobile phone cameras, photo-sharing sites (Flickr), Wikipedia 2009 Typhoon Ketsana, Philippines Twitter was newly popular, paypal used for donations Google crisis map created and used by relief workers 2010 Haiti Earthquake Ushahidi crisis map widely used helping to create a hotline service Twitter used by survivors telling stories 2010 Yusho Earthquake China Sina-Weibo widely used Limited to Chinese language 2010 Typhoon Megi, Philippines Government set up Twitter account just before it hit 28,000 followers) – broadcasted on traditional media (up to 20 typhoons each year) 2011 Hurricane Irene, USA US Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) encouraged the use of SMS and social networks to prevent networks from jamming
  • 6. Messages Types Alerts Awareness (or help) Service provision Self help Advocacy Common Messages “Evacuate to the designated emergency shelter for your area” “Rising flood waters along the main road reaching 1.5 metres” “Red Cross is providing food and medical care in village A & B” “Boil or treat water before you drink it” “Humanitarian partners desperately need more funding to reach XXX many people” Behavior Change Did people move to area due to message? Did people become aware due to message? Did people receive aid due to message? Did people self-treat due to message? Did agency raise more funding due to message?
  • 7. The Reality on the ground Adhoc use of social media as a programme tool Limited systematic research – lack of research on its usefulness in disasters Humanitarian responders committing limited resources to use social media Community capacity constrained (i.e. electricity, connectivity) Focus on campaigns and advocacy
  • 8. 2010 Haiti Earthquake •Twitter was the primary place people turned to interact with others. •2.3 million tweets included “Haiti” or the number to text message a donation to the Red Cross between Jan 12 & 14. •Twitter not used by public to obtain news about the disaster. Public turned to traditional media for disaster information. •Survivors used social media to tell their story, therefore driving traditional media coverage.
  • 9. Thailand Floods, 2011 “ThaiFlood” website a collaboration with private sector and volunteers. Then set up their own “FloodThailand”. Less trust in Government - information was constantly changing. People continued to use “ThaiFlood”
  • 10. @thaiflood versus @floodthailand
  • 11. #eqnz Christchurch Earthquake 2011 @CEQgovtnz – Official Government (Canterbury Earthquake Authority) Nearly 2500 tweets during first fortnight after Mobile operators @TelecomNZ and @vodafonenz posted widely advisories on how to minimise strain on networks Sharing and discussing information changed significantly over time
  • 12. The Great East Japan Earthquake 2011 Popular hash tags included: #anpi – finding people #hinan – evac centre information #jishin – earthquake information Strength of Facebook - filtering personal messages (“We are ok”) YouTube was also used after the disaster (fundraising appeals and educational videos)
  • 13. Typhoon Bopha/Pablo, 2012 Digital Humanitarian Network OCHA activated the DHN on Dec 5th 2012 at 3PM Geneva time. To collect all relevant social media posts posted on Dec 4-5. Pictures/videos of damage/flooding. Volunteers curated some 20,000 social media messages. Compiling results for Humanitarian partners.
  • 14. Question? Did anyone in the room participate in the Typhoon Bopha/Pablo response? If yes, did anyone see this data/information and subsequent communications products?
  • 15. Ya’an, China Earthquake, 2013 7 out of the 8 top trending topics on Sina Weibo were on the earthquake Sina Micro-charity projects raised more than $10,000 in the first 24 hours The China International Rescue Team asked people to report their locations and damage on social media More than 36,000 comments were left under that post, which were forwarded more than 400,000 times.
  • 16. For the field practitioner Assign people with ownership Social media training Two or one-way use Program regular content Assess analytics and recalibrate at regular intervals Don’t be pressured to be on too many platforms Tell stories graphically Think mobile
  • 17. Final message As people call out for help on social media rather than directly to aid providers/rescuers –is there a need for responders to coordinate emerging communication channels to bridge gap between providers and those seeking assistance?