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Connecting emergency management organizations with digitally enabled emergent volunteering

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Abstract

Popular online platforms currently provide a virtual site for the convergence of citizens after emergencies. After convergence on online sites to gain information and participate in dialogue about emergencies, citizens may go on to spontaneously assume various online and off-line response and recovery tasks, which we have termed digitally enabled emergent volunteering (DEEV). DEEV represents surge capacity of voluntary labour and other assistance that can contribute to emergency relief and recovery operations in the aftermath of an emergency. The purpose of this research report is to assemble knowledge about DEEV from the fields of disaster sociology and crisis informatics, as well as from case studies, and to present best practices for how emergency management organizations (EMOs) can monitor for, engage with, and leverage this community resource while minimizing risks associated with spontaneous volunteering.
Essential organizational elements for EMOs seeking to partner with the online public are a consistent program of social media monitoring and a dialogic approach to social media communications. Other important features of EMOs seeking to leverage DEEV activity to improve emergency outcomes are capacity to manage volunteer assets in the recovery and response phases of an emergency, as well as, flexible emergency management strategies that are open to collaboration with grassroots community groups.

Significance to defence and security

In the networked world, public communication about crises increasingly occurs in the milieu of social media. Social media is now also the principal site in which the public deliberates upon and undertakes activities of collective coordination during and in the aftermath of crises.
Understanding and preparing for the dynamics of the public on social media during and after a crisis is essential for ensuring up-to-date, situationally aware and societally responsive management protocols for every kind of security and safety situation.