Building Community Resilience through Social Networking Sites: Using Online Social Networks for Emergency Management

Building Community Resilience through Social Networking Sites: Using Online Social Networks for Emergency Management

Miriam S. Belblidia (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0167-3.ch003
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Abstract

Online Social Networking Sites (SNS) enable collaborative information sharing and help build resilient communities in areas exposed to risk. This paper reviews existing research on community vulnerability and resilience, and explores the role of communication in fostering strong community networks. The paper draws upon examples of SNS used to share information and explores how such technology may be leveraged more effectively to provide communities with robust communication networks, thereby creating more resilient communities in areas at high risk of natural disasters.
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Research Question

For the purposes of this paper, Social Networking Sites are defined as any web-based applications that allow individuals to connect, communicate, and collaborate with one another. This is usually done through individual user profiles and allows users to share information and join networks based on geographic location or interests (White et al., 2009). By linking friends, families, co-workers, and acquaintances, SNS are able to reinforce communication networks and transmit critical information.

The utility of Social Networking Sites for emergency management comes from their potential ability to create more resilient communities in areas at high risk of disasters. The central research question of this paper is whether SNS facilitate collaborative action at the community level by strengthening communication networks and enabling communities to self-organize more effectively, thereby reducing their risk. This represents an extension of the use of SNS by emergency managers to communicate critical information and may yield more effective results in producing resilient communities. By using SNS to collaborate and strengthen community networks, these sites have the potential to reduce vulnerability within communities.

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