My colleague Dr. Ioanna Tantanasi and I have published an article entitled ‘Social media’s not all bad- it’s saving lives in disaster zones‘ for the Conversation UK today. The piece draws on our CascEff and IMPROVER work on social media and crisis communication. Thanks to Stephen Harris for his editorial support and the invitation to comment on this issue.
This Friday (1st December) I am an invited speaker at the ESRC CASCADE-NET Seminar “The role of Civil Society’s agency in governance and contingency planning: citizenship, participation and social learning.” The seminar, organised by co-Investigator Dr. Martina McGuinness (Management School, University of Sheffield) will be held in Inox Dine, Students’ Union Building, University of Sheffield.
My paper is entitled ‘Social media, citizen empowerment and crisis communication during the 2014 UK Floods’ and draws on my recently completed EC FP7 funded research project CascEff . The slides for my presentation can be found here
My CascEff research report on the role of social and traditional media in crisis communication has been cited in the UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology POSTnote 564: Communicating Risk. I was also one of several UK academics to be an invited reviewer of this publication. It can be downloaded here
This morning my Research Associate Giuliana Tiripelli will present our paper “Challenges and opportunities of dialogic communication in crisis situations: Twitter, affective publics and the 2015 Channel Tunnel fire” at the Understanding Transition V: Developing Dialogic Communication conference at the University of Bucharest. The abstract for the paper can be found below:
Challenges and opportunities of dialogic communication in crisis situations: Twitter, affective publics, and the 2015 Channel Tunnel Fire.
Giuliana Tiripelli & Paul Reilly
The ‘ambient storytelling infrastructure’ of Twitter today enables ‘affective publics’ to present their own perspectives on events and issues (Papacharissi, 2015). This phenomenon challenges established top-down communicative dynamics, in which definitional power appeared to lie with institutions, organisations, and journalists rather than citizens, and seemingly presents new opportunities for dialogic communication between these actors in the digital age. At the same time, ‘affective publics’ “are mobilized … through expressions of sentiment” (Papacharissi, 2016: 311), creating new information flows that challenge the ability of organisations and journalists to channel communicative resources that manage public responses to crises. This paper explores this binary role of ‘affective publics’ in contemporary media ecologies through the study of the Twitter debate that emerged during the Channel Tunnel Fire. The incident on 17th January 2015, during which a lorry was set alight by an electricity bolt from overhead power lines, led to the evacuation of the passengers and significant disruption to Eurostar services for the next few days. Specifically, the study analyses the role played by journalists and Eurostar staff in the co-construction of meaning of the incident. A critical thematic analysis was conducted (Braun and Clarke 2006) to explore key themes of the 12,652 English-language tweets posted between the 17th and 19th January 2015. URL links shared in tweets were also classified using an inductively-developed content analysis codebook. Results indicate that Twitter accounts belonging to members of the public, rather than the affected organisation (Eurostar) or emergency institutions, were primarily responsible for starting information flows about the Channel Tunnel fire and subsequent disruptions. Although many tweets expressed gratitude for the professionalism of the company and their prompt reply to customer queries, the study suggested an ‘imbalance’ between organisations and private citizens in the co-creation of meaning of the incident in favour of the latter. One interpretation of this finding was that it was a manifestation of the increasingly important role played by flexible and mobile affective publics in defining news events within the contemporary ecology, often at the expense of less flexible news organisations and political institutions that operate in these online spaces. This may present practical problems for emergency managers during incidents such as the Channel Tunnel fire, especially when the cacophony of views on Twitter make it difficult to both filter and share real-time crisis information on the microblogging site. In this way, the paper adds to the emergent literature on dialogic communication and disasters by considering the extent to which the mobilisation of affective publics online challenges the ability of emergency managers to share accurate real-time information with members of the public during such incidents.
Braun V and Clarke V (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3(2):77-101.
Papacharissi Z (2015) Affective publics: Sentiment, technology and politics. Oxford University Press.
Papacharissi Z (2016) Affective publics and structures of storytelling: sentiment, events and mediality. Information, Communication & Society 19(3):307-324.
I have written an article entitled “Is the medium more important than the message? Communicating with disaster affected populations in the Information Age”for the publication France Forum, which was published last month (December 2016). The article (published in French) can be viewed below:
Enrico Ronchi (Lund University), Francisco Nieto Uriz (Lund University), Xavier Criel (Safety Centre Europe) and I have published a paper on the modelling of large-scale evacuation of music festivals in the journal Case Studies in Fire Safety. This is one of the first papers from our EC FP7 funded project CascEff to be published.
The full citation for the paper is:
Ronchi E, Nieto Uriz F, Criel X, Reilly P. (2016) Modelling large-scale evacuation of music festivals. Case Studies in Fire Safety. 5:11-19, DOI: 10.1016/j.csfs.2015.12.002.
It can be downloaded (open access) here
This afternoon I will be presenting a paper on the role of social media by citizens and the emergency services during the 2014 UK floods. This will draw on interviews conducted as part of the CascEff project.
The workshop, organised by the Association française pour la prévention des catastrophes naturals (AFPN), focuses on Social Media and Risk Management is taking place in Noisy Champs, Paris.
The slides for my presentation can be found here
I am looking to recruit a part-time RA to assist Dr Dima Atanasova and I on the CascEff project. This position will run for the next few months with the successful candidate helping transcribe interview data and develop a project wiki.
Further information on this role (including salary and closing date) can be found here
Dima Atanasova and I are currently working on two work packages as part of the EC FP7 funded project ‘CascEff: Modelling of dependencies and cascading effects for emergency management in crisis situations.’ We will be posting regular updates on the project on Twitter between now and the completion of the tasks in December 2015.
Our research has recently been highlighted in two magazines:
Research to examine role of media in aftermath of crisis situations, ScienceDaily, 11 August 2014, Available at:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140811124624.htm
Disaster media could aid decisions, Professional Security, 15 August 2014, Available at: http://www.professionalsecurity.co.uk/news/case-studies/disaster-media-could-aid-decisions/
For more on #CascEff, please see the project website
Yesterday I spoke at an event at the University of Sheffield focussing on questions of privacy, surveillance and governance in the Digital Society My presentation is below:
Other speakers at the event included Professor Clive Norris (Sheffield), Professor Kirstie Ball (Open University), Dr Andrew McStay (Bangor) and Dr Vian Bakir (Bangor). Thanks to John Steele and Jo Bates for the invitation and for organising an extremely interesting day – hopefully more to come!