Title: Social media in emergency management: exploring Twitter use by emergency responders in the UK

Authors: Sophie Parsons; Mark Weal; Nathaniel O'Grady; Peter M. Atkinson

Addresses: Web and Internet Science Group, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK ' Web and Internet Science Group, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK ' Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester, M13 9PL, UK ' Department of Lancaster Environment Centre, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK

Abstract: Emergency management practices are being reshaped by social media. Emergency responders are embracing social media to enhance communications during an emergency. The integration of social media into UK emergency management is ambiguous, and it is uncertain as to whether it is an effective tool. Using a mixed methods approach, this research investigates the UK emergency responders' use of social media for emergency management, focusing in particular on the UK Winter Floods of 2013/14. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the UK emergency responders' social media activity is examined. This research shows that the responders perceive social media as a useful tool to effectively deliver information to the public, although they do not appear to fully exploit it in an emergency. While the responders appear to predominantly post caution and advice, the results suggest that information about structures and utilities affected by an incident is most likely to engage an audience.

Keywords: UK floods; emergency management; social media; audience engagement; mixed methods; Twitter; emergency responders; emergency communications; local resilience forums; thematic analysis.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2018.097360

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2018 Vol.14 No.4, pp.322 - 343

Received: 23 Nov 2016
Accepted: 27 Aug 2017

Published online: 16 Jan 2019 *

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