How Twitter fought the floods

Jan 11, 2012

Social media is revolutionising disaster management and community building during emergencies, a study into social networking during last year’s Queensland floods has found.

Sites such as Twitter and Facebook were used by police and teams, but equally by individuals trying to connect during the crisis – showing that Twitter has evolved from a mere site to a critical emergency tool.

# qldfloods and @ QPSMedia : Crisis Communication on Twitter in the 2011 Queensland Floods was released  by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI).

Researchers involved include; Associate Professor Kate Crawford and Frances Shaw from UNSW and Associate Professor Axel Bruns and Dr Jean Burgess from the Queensland University of Technology.

Professor Crawford, deputy director of  UNSW's Journalism and Media Research Centre, said the study focussed largely on the role of Twitter, which was prominently used by the Queensland Police Service during the crisis.

"We have been researching the uses of Twitter during times of crisis, and during the floods we paid close attention to the interrelationship between emergency services, the media, and individuals,” said Professor Crawford. “The Queensland Police Service's Media Unit (@ QPSMedia) played a key role in getting timely and useful information out to the flood-affected population, and through Twitter, became a leading voice."

But didn’t just improve communication between police and media organisations. During the week of the floods, some 15,000 users – from official accounts to locals affected by the floods – participated in the # qldfloods hashtag on Twitter, sharing news, advice, photos and videos of the inundation.

“During times of crisis, many arguments and disagreements are suspended, and we see users come together to ensure that important information gets through to as many people as possible”, said Professor Crawford. “Social media users understand that their networks have become important additional channels for crisis communication.”

“The floods demonstrated that the way we use has changed. It’s not just a service for trivial 'what I had for lunch' messages, but a useful part of disaster communications for individuals, as well as emergency services and media in a time of crisis,” said Professor Crawford.

A particularly successful intervention by @ QPSMedia was its series of ‘# Mythbuster’ tweets, which corrected rumours and misinformation circulating through social media (and some mainstream media).

Working with the Queensland Department of Community Safety and the Brisbane-based think-tank Eidos Institute, the research team will now embark on a three-year ARC Linkage research project which seeks to further investigate the use of social media during natural disasters in Queensland and elsewhere. The project will also develop improved strategies for the effective use of social media by emergency organisations.

Explore further: Pinterest buys startup with image organizing skills

More information: cci.edu.au/floodsreport.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook can help in disasters: academic

Mar 18, 2011

An Australian academic Friday praised the increasing use of social media during disasters, saying there had been a "beautiful display of humanity" on Facebook during recent catastrophes.

Can ordinary people make money on Twitter?

Mar 09, 2011

Reports this week that celebrities are earning up to $10,000 per tweet on Micro-blogging site Twitter has caught the attention of ordinary social media users who are now asking how they can make money too.

All a Twitter for planning participation

Dec 09, 2011

For his final year research report University of Queensland Bachelor of Regional and Town Planning student, Cliff Schmidt, decided to research the role social networking sites can play in encouraging planning ...

Tweeting disasters

Oct 10, 2011

Professor John Preston, who is based at the University of East London's Cass School of Education, will tell the ‘Violent Nature’ Research Councils UK debate that Twitter and Facebook have been credited ...

Social media firms meet UK govt for riot talks

Aug 25, 2011

(AP) -- Executives from Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. are meeting the British government and police Thursday to discuss how to prevent social networks from being used to plot violence.

Content needs self-regulation

May 06, 2011

A new report by UNSW’s Journalism and Media Research Centre argues that Australia’s media content regulation system is broken and that it is time for a full review to manage content in the 21st century.

Recommended for you

Microsoft unveils Xbox in China as it faces probe

5 hours ago

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices.

Teens love vacation selfies; adults, not so much

6 hours ago

(AP)—Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie ...

Tiny UAVs and hummingbirds are put to test

6 hours ago

Hummingbirds in nature exhibit expert engineering skills, the only birds capable of sustained hovering. A team from the US, British Columbia, and the Netherlands have completed tests to learn more about the ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

9 hours ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

User comments : 0