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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)
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) #
Ocha social media trends challenges
Regional Communications with Communities Officer
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
August 2009 to May 2013
100 Million posts per day
537 Million users
March 2006 to July 2012
50 Million posts per day
517 Million users
•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
A disaster management tool
Information consumers to producers
Big, open and accessible data
Resilience through social capital
Users become citizens reporters
Resilient to infrastructure damage
How social media was usedDisasters
2005 London Bombings
One of the first examples of mass social media use in a disaster
Mobile phone cameras, photo-sharing sites (Flickr), Wikipedia
2009 Typhoon Ketsana,
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
Sina-Weibo widely used
Limited to Chinese language
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,
US Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) encouraged
the use of SMS and social networks to prevent networks from jamming
Awareness (or help)
“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”
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
Did agency raise more
funding due to message?
The Reality on the ground
Adhoc use of social media as a
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.
Focus on campaigns and advocacy
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
Thailand Floods, 2011
“ThaiFlood” website a collaboration
with private sector and volunteers.
Then set up their own
Less trust in Government -
information was constantly
People continued to use “ThaiFlood”
#eqnz Christchurch Earthquake
@CEQgovtnz – Official Government
(Canterbury Earthquake Authority)
Nearly 2500 tweets during first
Mobile operators @TelecomNZ and
@vodafonenz posted widely advisories
on how to minimise strain on networks
Sharing and discussing information
changed significantly over time
The Great East Japan
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
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
Compiling results for Humanitarian partners.
Did anyone in the room participate in
the Typhoon Bopha/Pablo response?
If yes, did anyone see this
data/information and subsequent
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.
For the field practitioner
Assign people with ownership
Social media training
Two or one-way use
Program regular content
Assess analytics and recalibrate at
Don’t be pressured to be on too
Tell stories graphically
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