Social media in a crisis - Australian Emergency Management Institute


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Why emergency agencies and leaders of first responders must think differently and embrace social media. Covers case studies for information sharing, as well as intelligence collection. Explains why monitoring social media is vital, and how every organisation needs a social media policy.

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  • I’m going to be reinforcing how social media is vital in an emergency Looking at some quick statistics on use Some cases of where it’s been used in crises The two ways you can use social media in responding to disaster The importance of listening And some easy ways to manage risk Protecting your organisation Listening to what’s going on Flame image by patita_rds's available at modified by @DarrenWhitelaw using Photoshop Department of Justice nameplate and the State Government of Victoria insignia © State of Victoria
  • Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m not taking on behalf of official emergency channels or policies About my experience and observations from someone responsible for social media in the department About me: Victoria’s Justice Department About me Victoria’s integrated emergency response All hazards, all agencies 60,000 CFA volunteers Communication, not emergency response Doing more in the online space Strategic online activity New Media Group. Crowd image by Ryan Glanzer available at Police image by John Trif via CFA image by Iamagloworm via County Court of Victoria by Superciliousness Racing image by O Sedgman Money by Martin Kingsley via
  • Who’s using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer? Who’s doing thinking with Emergency 2.0? And some of the things I’ve learnt along the way: • The importance of listening • Making sharing a key part of your social media strategy • Going to where people are Image by Trouni via available at
  • Bob Dylan  performing at  St. Lawrence University  in New York, 1963. Big change over his time was social (changing values, rights of women, minority groups, social norms). Big change over our time is social, driven by social technology. What I’m going to be talking about: Image source: , from the 1964 yearbook of St. Lawrence University. Because no copyright notice appears anywhere in the yearbook and it was published before 1978, these photos are in the public domain.
  • 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
  • Two out of every five (43%) online Australians own a smart phone More than two and a half million Australians use their smartphones to participate in social networking via mobile. Two thirds of these are under 35 years Source: Nielsen, March 2010 Image © Chris Jordan
  • 468 million smart phones sold worldwide this year (source: Gartner 2011)
  • Image: © AP Photo Predicted to sell 48m ipads in 2011
  • * Visualisation of the internet * 150 billion pages 1.7 billion users around the globe (25% penetration rate) 380% annual growth (Source: Time spent on social networks has tripled (Nielsen, 25/9/09) Average Australian now spends 68 hours online per month (Nielsen Online Internet and Technology Report, March 09) Online video now outstrips TV for under 20s Australians are now one of the biggest users of social media in the world Australians spend 27.2hrs online each month Up 60% in two years One-third of leisure time 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
  • 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 This year, more Australians will be aged under 40 than over (Source: ABS Population Pyramid) Gen Y not just using it to socialise, but to manage their lives more efficiently.
  • 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)
  • Word of mouth and referral are the most powerful influencers Purchasing: family and friends listened to most (Source: AdAge April 2008) Consumers trust friends above experts when it comes to product recommendations: 65% trust friends, 27% trust experts, 8% trust celebrities (Source: Yankelovich) 74% online shoppers influenced by reviews and referrals (Source: Manage Smarter, 2009) Internet most trusted source of info (AGIMO: Australia in the Digital Economy, 2009) Stats above for users of the internet
  • Governments around the world are dealing with increasingly complex problems: Ageing population Health care Climate change Extreme weather events Has to be a new way of doing business and creating public policy
  • With all of the increasingly complex problems, in an increasingly complex world, something has to give. We are all being asked to do more with less. The public sector has an increasing number of “wicked” problems, to which there are no simple solutions. We can’t keep taking a 19 th Century mindset to dealing with 21 st Century problems. We need to do things differently. So I’m going to be spending the next little while looking over how some organisations are taking a different approach, to tap into the power of social media to deal with emergencies and crises. Image © via
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 1 million posts about Haiti Half in the first week Mobile technology Text 4636 with emergency info and location Finding people, relieving needs at tent camps $35m raised using mobile phones
  • 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. 120k people interacted with it in some way Built using
  • QLD police used Twitter for direct communication Caring tone Quickly picked up by news outlets 39 million hits on FB in one day 73k YouTube views in a week Used the #mythbuster hashtag – able to dispel misinformation quickly Image CC-BY-SA KingBob86 via
  • Direct communication Operational help: Social media can relieve phone calls Public is going to put the information there no matter what
  • 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 site is linked to Facebook connect, so they can feed off one another.
  • 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
  • A quick way of people finding out the main things they need to do to be fire ready.
  • Also shows real time fire information using the OSOM (One Source One Message) RSS feed from the CFA control centre.
  • 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).
  • This is only an idea on the drawing board at this stage...
  • Queensland floods, Brisbane CC CFA site, Black Saturday 1.5m visits to the CFA site 80% of all government traffic CFA visits accounted for 5% of all government traffic across Australia Red Cross donation page clogged IECC systems frantic, online secondary Bushfire hotline – 9,000 calls per hour Image by Whrelf Siemens available at
  • Without stating the obvious, let me bring up one of the biggest examples of how mass collaboration can be a game-changer… Wikipedia has: 3.6m articles
  • In March 2000, Goldcorp launched a $575,000 competition for all the professional and amateur geologists to help find and extract gold CEO Rob McEwen made public all of their mining data and maps back to 1948 Best methods, best locations 1000 competitors from around the world Identified 110 targets, 50% of which hadn’t been picked by company’s own experts Four in five paid off Now, Goldcorp has been turned around from a $100m underperforming company to a $9b juggernaut
  • Crisis Commons is a not-for-profit group of volunteers who use open data and volunteer IT people to catalyse innovation in crisis management Who’s heard of crisis camps? Funded for less than $1.5m (US) from a not-for-profit grant Since 2009, CrisisCommons has coordinated crisis event responses such at the Haiti, Chile and Japan Earthquakes and the floods in Thailand, Nashville and Pakistan. Over 3,000 people have participated worldwide in over 30 cities across 10 countries.
  • Sit rep or spot checks? During the Brisbane floods, there was between 14k-16k tweets per hour with #qldfloods – great source of intelligence People passing on practical information, how to flood proof your house, how to clean up after Image of Miami Crisis Camp for Haiti 2010: CC-BY-SA Alex De Caryalho
  • This is not officially supported Built by the community Keeping a close eye on how people use it this fire season Ushahidi, means "witness" in Swahili First developed in 2008 to map reports of violence in Kenya after the election Plots reports from citizens sent by web and mobile phone onto a google map Also called “activist mapping” Also been used in Haiti, Chile
  • Via
  • Listen and learn… who is saying what?
  • Allows staff and volunteers to become advocates Extends our reach Passionate and engaged staff will reinforce brand if given permission Staff are doing it already 27.2 hours a month now spent on the web Facebook takes up one-third of time online Helps protect reputation of department.
  • Catherine Deveny The Age Sacked after tweeting at Logies Rove and Bindi Irwin
  • Social media is not going away It’s important to listen (free or paid) It’s a long term relationship - takes time, money Don’t say nothing Adapt your processes for 21 st century
  • Image by Evgeniy Lukyanov ( )
  • Social media in a crisis - Australian Emergency Management Institute

    1. 1. Australian Emergency Management Institute – Connect! Unless indicated otherwise, presentation is licensed by @ darrenwhitelaw :
    2. 2. @DarrenWhitelaw.
    3. 4. Oh, the times, they are a changin’
    4. 5. Super-fast internet almost here Image by Lucretious
    5. 6. Smart phones are big.
    6. 7. 125,000 Australia, July-Sept 2007
    7. 8. 100,000,000 2011
    8. 9. 124,596 12 March 2010
    9. 10. People really like the internet. Image by The Opte Project
    10. 11. The natives are taking over… © National Maritime Museum (Grenwich, London)
    11. 12. For many, it’s all thanks to…
    12. 14. Most trusted sources (AGIMO: Australia in the Digital Economy, 2009 ) 20% 27% 16% 11%
    13. 15. <ul><li>Erik Qualman, Socialnomics, via Youtube </li></ul>
    14. 16. Public policy is getting more complex. Image by Patrick Moore
    15. 17. Something has to give
    16. 18. Web 1.0
    17. 19. Web 2.0
    18. 20. <ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Openness </li></ul><ul><li>Empowerment </li></ul>Gov 2.0
    19. 21. Online is now critical in a crisis.
    20. 22. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul>
    21. 23. <ul><li>2007 Californian Bushfires </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech shootings </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>
    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>
    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>
    25. 27. <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
    26. 28. <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>
    27. 29. <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><ul><li>QLD floods </li></ul>
    28. 30. Social media has two big parts to play… Intelligence Information
    29. 31. Information
    30. 32. Showing support for our volunteers.
    31. 34. “ matter what colour their uniform, they did a wonderful job against odds that the human mind can’t fathom”
    32. 36. An active, engaged community… 9,300 x 150 = 1,209,000 Image by Spekulator
    33. 37. Helping people get ready for the fire season.
    34. 39. A quick checklist to see if you’re prepared
    35. 40. Real time info, direct from the CFA control centre
    36. 41. And taps into the power of family and friends…
    37. 42. … at the touch of a button
    38. 43. Info at people’s fingertips
    39. 47. Can also help when traditional channels can’t
    40. 48. Intelligence Information
    41. 49. Intelligence
    42. 53. So why can’t we do the same? Image by Alex De Caryalho
    43. 54. What if it’s not the experts, but someone in the crowd?
    44. 57. Intelligence Information
    45. 58. Emergency 2.0
    46. 59. Listening to what people are saying is critical…
    47. 60. Grow bigger ears!
    48. 61. Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?
    49. 63. And there’s plenty of paid services too… Looking Glass
    50. 64. FireReady
    51. 65. Dashboard
    52. 66. Themes
    53. 67. But you also need to minimise risk…
    54. 68. Give people permission, but protect them (and you)
    55. 71. I hate my boss and work sucks Everyone around me are a bunch of total fools I wanna kill my co-workers I am surrounded by incompetence and insanity! I just found out the greatest secret… How’s this for a massive scandal… F%*@! I really %#+*&^% these @!&%%$ Who cares?
    56. 72. I hate my boss and work sucks Everyone around me are a bunch of total fools I wanna kill my co-workers I am surrounded by incompetence and insanity! I just found out the greatest secret… How’s this for a massive scandal… F%*@! I really %#+*&^% these @!&%%$ Hey everyone! I’m Darren Whitelaw and I work for the Department of Justice .
    57. 73. <ul><li>Watch the video on YouTube </li></ul>
    58. 74. Think BIG Start SMALL Fail FAST And a final piece of advice...
    59. 76. <ul><li>Listen, listen, listen </li></ul><ul><li>Look at your rules and processes </li></ul><ul><li>Go where people are </li></ul><ul><li>Tap into the crowd </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>Image by Evgeniy Lukyanov
    60. 77. We can no longer afford to work at the speed of government… We have responsibilities to the public to move the information as quickly as possible … so that they can make key decisions. Los Angeles Fire Department ” “
    61. 78. Whew! That’s it… questions?
    62. 79. 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 Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Australia Licence . </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><ul><li>Eg Darren Whitelaw (links to </li></ul></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. Products mentioned do not imply official endorsement. </li></ul>