Crisis Management 2.0: Towards a Systematization of Social Software Use in Crisis Situations

Crisis Management 2.0: Towards a Systematization of Social Software Use in Crisis Situations

Christian Reuter (Institute for Information Systems, University of Siegen, Germany), Alexandra Marx (Institute for Information Systems, University of Siegen, Germany) and Volkmar Pipek (Institute for Information Systems, University of Siegen, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/jiscrm.2012010101
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In this paper, the authors propose a systematization of social software use in crisis situations, examining different types of cooperation and challenges. The authors discuss how the organizational actors involved in crisis management (police, fire-fighters, organizations, etc.) and the affected citizens are communicating and can communicate and collaborate through the use of social software. After defining the term ‘social software,’ the authors outline its use in crisis management. They present two case studies where they have examined the use of social software in 2010: first during the disruption of air travel caused by the eruptions of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland and second during the mass panic at the Love Parade music festival in Germany. Based on both previous work and case studies, the authors discuss potentials and weaknesses and propose a classification matrix for different types of cooperation as a step toward a systematization of social software use in crisis situations.
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2. Potential Of Social Software In Crisis Communication

Social Software is a part of Web 2.0. The term ‘Web 2.0’ is not well defined but describes the innovations of the Internet after the crash of the ‘new economy’ in 2000 (Alby, 2007). At a conference held by O’Reilly, the competences of the surviving companies of the new economy were summarized under the term ‘Web 2.0.’ O’Reilly (2005) defined them in seven characteristics which include the usage of the Internet as a platform to provide different services, the participation of users and a collective intelligence, the consideration of the user generated data as capital of an application, the inclusion of the user in the development using new software development models, the usage of services on different terminals and rich user experience. The term ‘social software’ describes web-based applications, which support the user’s interaction and communication process. In addition to this definition, there are various other considerations. Hippner (2006) defined social software as the possibility to exchange information, manage relationships and communicate in a social context. Besides the exchange of information, Ebersbach et al. (2008) have defined that user-generated content is an essential element of social software. Therefore, the existence of a community is an important pre-condition.

The following characteristics arise from the different definitions and will be used in this paper: Social software encompasses a range of applications from the Internet, which enable different people to contact and interact with each other. A community providing the data is the basis of these applications and they support different activities: the allocation of information, the generation of information, relationship management, communication and self-expression. Different activities are often combined. Based on the definition of these activities, various classes of social software applications can be distinguished (Ebersbach et al., 2008).

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