New platform to monitor Swedish authorities use of social media in emergencies and crisis

This summer has been a hectic time for some of the members of Crisis Response Lab. When many of us enjoyed the summer, others were doing some hard-core development.
The work paid off and we have now a completely new infrastructure in place to monitor activities in the social media space. The first version of this infrastructure is called MASS – Monitoring Authorities uSe of Social media. This platform allow us to monitor how Swedish authorities use social media in emergencies and crisis. We use Twitter data as an indicator of social media use.

The MASS-platform is built by the software genius Viktor Green, student at Software Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. MASS  allow us to monitor and analyse the many varieties of social media use among governmental agencies. Viktor has been working on MASS together with Phd-Student Fredrik Bergstrand and myself. The MASS-platform tracks 200+ authority accounts and we have collected +70K tweets so far.

(Foto: Marie Ullnert)

A week ago, I attended the ISCRAM 2012 Summerschool held at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. This year, the topic at the summer school was social media and humanitarian response work. As always, being there and be part of the ISCRAM-community is very rewarding. My contribution this year was a session on how to make use of Human Centred Design to explore how social media could be crafted and shaped into desirable, viable and feasible solutions for humanitarian response.

I also had the opportunity to discuss MASS, with leading social media researchers such as Sophia Liu at USGS and Richard Stronkman at Twitcident. We all see how the next phase of social media use is really taking off. This phase is oriented on making use of large volumes of social media updates and make these tiny pieces of information meaningful for authorities and other response organisations. It was nice to talk to Sophia and Richard and discuss how the MASS-platform and the possibilities of using the data we collect to better understand how Swedish authorities use social media on an everyday basis and in crisis situations.

Tentative findings from our monitoring activities this summer indicates that the Swedish Police is the leading swedish agency of using social media to connect with the public and make police work more visible for a larger community of people. We also that also see that the Swedish Fire and Rescue Services to our surprise have a very low activity on social media such as Twitter. The full extent of these findings will be further analysed.

We will continue our monitoring activities and analyse how Swedish authorities make use of social media. With the MASS-platform, we feel confident that new insights will be uncovered, discussed and debated. Adding additional social media platforms is already in the plan.

An interview about our work is available in the Swedish Research Councils magazine Curie: Bättre Krishantering med social medier.

For anyone interested in these topics and also fluent in swedish, this one-day practitioner focused conference should be of outmost interest. Sociala mediers betydelse vid händelser och kriser [läs mer], organized by Länsstyrelsen Örebro Län.

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