During a disaster, effective public communications can mean the difference between life and death. While emergency management personnel have established proficient communication contingencies, more avenues of communication need to be added to reach a larger segment of the community. To address this potential issue, a team of researchers at the University of Georgia developed a new social media framework for emergency communications during a disaster.
The team understood that while the use of social media in disasters was already promoted at the federal level, it is not uniformly adopted across localities. “There is a lack of both communication frameworks and guidance on the use of social media as a crisis communication tool that was tailored specifically for use on the local level,” said team leader Dionne Mitcham. “The framework uniquely leverages local emergency management agencies’ close relationships with stakeholders to help amplify the distribution of uniform disaster-related messaging via social media.”
The researchers call their new model the Communications Hub Framework and envision it as a spoke and wheel system. In the framework emergency managers would set up social media accounts before a disaster and engage with other relevant community stakeholders who would agree to share and amplify their social media posts, shared by the communications “Hub Coordinator” during a disaster. Thus, in a crisis situation the community would have greater access to accurate unified communications and misinformation would decrease, hopefully leading to more saved lives and less destruction. Access the study here or read a relevant article.