Using Social Media to protect the public in emergency disasters

Disaster 2.0 Masterclass

7 December 2012

Aston Business School has been involved in a series of social media master classes to identify ways in which the public can be kept better informed in a disaster situation. 

The two masterclasses are part of the Disaster 2.0 project; a two year project explores how governments across Europe currently and can potentially use Web 2.0 applications (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Ushahidi) in disaster response.

The event brought together representatives from across Europe and the USA emergency management and government organisations to share their knowledge and experiences of using social media to protect the public and increase their responsiveness.

During the masterclass, participants shared the challenges they had experienced in using social media for emergency management, including the user’s control of social media and the impact on data privacy and verification issues and technical problems for example infrastructure breaking or networks overloading during an incident.

The representatives gave presentations, outlining their organisation’s use of social media to manage emergency situations and the challenges they face when using social media in disasters.

In addition to the presentations, the masterclass also provided participants with the opportunity to practice crisis mapping using Web 2.0 application Ushahidi to map infrastructures such as fire and police stations.    

Following the end of masterclasses recommendations were made on ways to encourage emergency management agencies to use social media for emergency management. The three strategies identified;

  • Interact – using social media as a tool for questions and answers

  • Push – repeating links to information

  • Pull – getting useful information from the messages on social media


For further media information please contact Eva Tabora University Communications on 0121 204 4292

Notes to editors

To access the Masterclass 1 presentations please visit http://www.disaster20.eu/masterclass1/.  A second Masterclass on “Disaster information: the use of social media and semantic technologies” will be held in Brussels, 16-17 January 2013.  For more information please email disaster20@aston.ac.uk.      

The two Masterclasses are being held as part of the Disaster 2.0 project.  The 2-year project explores how governments across Europe currently and can potentially use Web 2.0 applications (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Ushahidi) and Semantic Technologies in disaster response.  The team is working with government organisations in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy and Poland to understand their perspectives on the potential of these technologies. The €950,000 project is funded by the ‘Prevention, preparedness and consequence management of terrorism and other security-related risks’ programme, European Commission – Directorate-Home Affairs (HOME/2010/CIPS/AG/002), Aston University and The University of Warwick.



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