Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tools für Crisis Mapping & Social Media Monitoring

by Theresa Herbst

Soziale Medien wie (SMS, Twitter, Facebook und allgemein das Web) spielen im Crisis Management eine immer wichtigere Rolle. Menschen vor Ort benutzen die sozialen Medien um ihre Informationen mit den andren zu teilen. Diese füttern also die Menschheit mit schnellen und wichtigen Informationen über Katastrophengebiete. Es gibt aber auch noch eine weitere Anzahl an Tools für Social Media Monitoring wie zum Beispiel „Storyful“, „Corp-geofeedia“ oder „Hootsuite“.

Die sozialen Medien stellen die Basis des Crisis Mappings dar. Ohne sie würde man nicht an die schnellen und tiefgründigen Informationen eines Katastrophengebietes kommen. Es gibt auch bei den Crisis Mapping eine Vielzahl an hilfreichen und unterschiedlichen Tools.

Hierzu zählen zum Beispiel „Shanafoundation“, „Tomnod“ oder auch Ushahidi aber noch viele anderen mehr. Ushahidi ist wahrscheinlich das meist benutze und beste Tool für Crisis Mapping. Da das Interesse an der Website immer größer wurde hat das Tool immer mehr potenzielle Anwendbarkeit in Krisensituationen bekommen. Sie helfen bei einer ersten frühen Warnung, Verfolgung einer Krisensituation bis hin zu fördernden Maßnahmen.

Ushahidi besitzt eine Vielzahl an Stärken, weist allerdings auch Schwächen auf. Allgemein ermöglichen Tools von Crisis Mapping sowie auch von Social Media Monitoring die Katastrophe von lokalen aber auch regionalen NGO’s, Organisationen, Staat und privaten Leuten schnell aufzufassen und einzuschätzen. Somit ist ein schnelles Eingreifen und Handeln möglich und den Katastrophenschaden und weiteres einzudämmen.

Okolloh (2009) Ushahidi, or testimony: Web 2.0 tools for crowdsourcing crisis information. S. 65-70

Roche, Propeck-Zimmermann, Mericskay (2011) GeoWeb and crisis management: issues and perspectives of volunteered geographic information. Springer.

Actors in Humanitarian Aid: UN & Co

by Werner Clödy

These days are affected by themes of climate change, globalization, demographics or violence and unexpected shocks become more and more frequent. For this reason we are exposed to risks and thus we need an appropriate international humanitarian system more than ever, which is able to solve problems like climate change, high food prices, the financial crisis and the HIV/AIDS and flu pandemics as well as issues like rapid urbanization and ageing population.

Confronting these objectives successfully requires a lot of actors, who has to be coordinated as well as possible. Beside national, local and community based organisations, three main categories of humanitarian actors (limited to the formal international system) can be named:

1. The major providers (non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement)

2. The programme conveners/coordinators (the main role of UN humanitarian agencies and offices)

3. The official donors

This international system has shown considerable growth in recent years: Global stuffing levels have increased significantly as well as the funds contributed by donors directly to international emergency response efforts. Even funding from voluntary sources has ascended in recent years. Especially NGOs highlight the importance of these voluntary sources, which possibly could be increased by “volunteered geographic information”. Consequently there is an overall progress in parts of the humanitarian system, while remaining blemished in some accounts for effectiveness.

Beside this overall progress, there exist several problems concerning the humanitarian relief. In addition to the three main categories of humanitarian actors there are other actors like national militaries and private sector contractors. On the whole there exist endless actors in the humanitarian system. So the discussion is focused on the coordination of these actors.

Maybe Volunteered Geographic Information could help here.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Role of "Social Media" in Disaster Management

by Verena Flörchinger

Social media is strongly embedded in our daily life. Twitter, Facebook, and types of communication technologies are constantly changing our habits of communication. We do not only share information in face to face contacts, but also via a multitude of new forms of social media. New technologies like smartphones comprise diverse sensors, such as cameras, microphones and GPS, which enable a new level of information distribution. 
This new technology combined with social media allows the user to share information with a huge and growing community. Twitter for example opens up the possibility to share instant messages with the public. Via Instagram and YouTube, photos and videos respectively, become accessible to everyone. 
There is not just the information we knowingly share, but also metadata about location, time and so forth. Within these new forms of communication and hidden data lies a big opportunity for crisis mapping and disaster management if the V&TC are capable of extracting information nuggets out of the big data provided. These new types of information-usage and new technology can be useful for situational awareness, the distribution of alerts and further functions of disaster management. 
Albeit these possibilities, there is also a wide range of challenges and problems. It is challenging to detect events while big data volume is rising every day. The first hurdle is to extract useful information from a large amount of data. Hence, there is a need for new methods of detection and characterization of events, disasters, crisis etc. In academia as well as in volunteer communities the rise in effort can already be felt. With the help of the growing community of volunteers it is possible to process data regarding an event. 
An example would be the extraction of relevant twitter messages, which provide data worth using for disaster management. The big data set and the velocity of data make it difficult to react promptly, because the analysis of big data is highly time-consuming and resource-intensive. In order to tackle the problem of real-time processing of data, which is crucial during the first hours of an event, it is necessary to develop program filters for such processes. When an event seems relevant for disaster management the next step is to categorize all the information. Within this phase the data quality and the verification has to be discussed before the analysis starts. If an automatic method is generated further questions arise: Is it possible to use one method for all events of the same type? How is the information redistributed to the public? The latter question is especially relevant when looking at countries and regions where the access to these kinds of media is restricted or not widespread due to financial hurdles.
Besides the challenges of detection, coordination and categorization there is the recurring and important factor of data privacy: Which mechanisms have to be considered if we want to respect individuals’ privacy while using the data of social media?
In the context of disaster management the high potential of social media is almost only used on disaster response. Can social media be used during the phases of resilience, mitigation and preparedness as well? Could the next task be to build the according tools?

Selected Literature:

ADAM, N. R., SHAFIQ, B., & STAFFIN, R. (2012). Spatial Computing and Social Media
in the Context of Disaster Management. Intelligent Systems, IEEE, 27 (6), 90-96.

IMRAN, M., ELBASSUONI, S., CASTILLO, C., DIAZ, F. & MEIER, P. (2013). Extracting
Information Nuggets from Disaster-Related Messages in Social Media. 10th
International ISCRAM Conference, Baden-Baden, Germany, 1-10.

MEIER, P. (2013). Analysis of Multimedia Shared in Millions of Tweets After Tornado
(Updated). iRevolution. From innovation to Revolution, Online: