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Feature: Building Relationships on Trust in Disasters

Trust in Evacuation Warnings

The role of trust is important in disaster management and social media. Joint research over the past twelve months between The University of Padua (Italy), Trinity College Dublin and Stillwater Communications (Ireland) has uncovered some important details about trust and its role in disaster communications.

When people are asked to evacuate from an area they are put in a position where they have to trust the authority of emergency managers who tell them that it is safer to leave their homes than to stay. While this might seem like an easy decision, the events of Hurricane Katrina highlighted a major issue when many people mistrusted the warnings that were given and chose to stay in their homes where they felt safer. This was, in part, due to exaggerated stories of looting and mistrust in government, where people felt it would be safer to stay in a familiar place than to relocate temporarily.

Trust in Who Delivers the Message

Graph of levels of trust from Ipsos Mori

Ipsos Mori’s survey on trust shows a low level of political trust compared to an increasing level of trust in experts. Click image for source

One recent poll (above) by Ipsos Mori (a UK research company that specialise in media and advertising) highlights the low level of trust in politicians and journalists when compared to experts. In evacuation situations, politicians often deliver messages from emergency managers, including warning messages and evacuation orders. Read more

Prof. Khurshid Ahmad speaking at the ISCRAM conference 2015

Slándáil at ISCRAM Conference 2015

Cover image credit: @vitalanfranchi

The Slándáil project presented as part of the 12th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM), on 27 May 2015 in Kristiansand, Norway. The project was represented by Professor Khurshid Ahmad, project coordinator.

Professor Ahmad spoke about three unique aspects of Slandail Project: First, to collect and analyse texts and images, available on the social media, to maximise the amount of information during a disaster both to disaster managers and the public at large – current emergency management systems rely on analysing texts only; Second, to increase the level of trust between the managers and the public during a disaster by articulating the available information in a manner that shows empathy as well as leadership. And, third, to practically involve the Slandail end-users, software developers, and ethics and legal experts, in the specification and design of the Slandail system; end users usually form a loose association with projects like Slandail.

His talk was part of a section with speakers from other EU projects including SeCinCoRe, SECTOR, Pop-Alert and COBRACORE. Read more