Learning from Earthquakes: First person reports


Social Media and Christchurch Emergency Communication

March 17, 2011 by
Filed under EERI Team Field Blog, Social Impacts

During the September 4, 2010 earthquake, the Christchurch City Council had no use of, or strategy to implement social media into their risk and crisis communications plan. Thoughtful observers who also endured that harrowing event found that local community members were turning to online social networks to organize volunteer efforts, post critical information, and communicate about the aftermath of the earthquake. The quick study from a few public information officers working for the CCC served as the impetus for the social media response during the devastating February 22, 2011 earthquake.

During this event, public information managers quickly rallied to develop a social media monitoring and publication strategy. They integrated a set of online platforms such as a WordPress blog that could be quickly updated as needed, twitter feeds, local news sources, annotated maps, and a Facebook fan page. These online technologies were used for both outgoing communication and incoming communication, facilitating a dialogue rather than just unidirectional information flow. They also observed milling activities, identifying critical needs that might be reported by those from the disaster affected areas so that resources could be directed to appropriate locations. Such a mixed strategy allowed the CCC to observe, communicate, distribute, and connect with members of the public through accessible web based technologies.

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