BGU study: Social media are transforming emergency communications

Facebook, Twitter and other social media (SM) have become a major tool for the authorities to deal with disasters, according to a researcher at Ben-Gurion University’s emergency medicine department, who explains that this telecommunications medium is sometimes the only one to survive a catastrophe. The study, by doctoral student Tomer Simon, has just appeared in the International Journal of Information Management.
“Communication is one of the fundamental tools of emergency management, and it becomes crucial when there are dozens of agencies and organizations responding to a disaster,” explained Simon. “In the past six years, social media have been garnering an ever increasing role as a main communication channel in emergency situations.”
The social media provide opportunities and possibilities to interact and engage with people during emergencies by disseminating relevant information and gathering posted information, he continued. Emergency managers who were formerly used to one-directional dissemination of information to the population are now exposed to vast amounts of information, originating from the public and typically before formal notifications.
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