Lessons in social media and communication

The 6th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held over the 22 – 23 May at The Star Gold Coast (previously Jupiter’s), Queensland.

Miss Sara Page, GeoNet Public Information Specialist at GNS Science joins us at the conference to discuss ‘The M7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake:  Lessons in social media and communication’.

Sara Page

At 12.02 am February 14 2016 the ground began to shake on the South Island of New Zealand. When the shaking ended, 150 kilometres were ruptured and 12 faults at the surface rose above ground, lifting sea bed off the coast of Kaikoura, and leaving the township cut off by landslides. Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, was also shaken severely with many buildings damaged.

The first communication from a government organisation was from GeoNet (New Zealand’s geological hazard monitoring agency), via Twitter and then Facebook at 12.05 a.m.  Social media was very active, as GeoNet began to access the size and location of the earthquake, and it rapidly became clear that this event was significant in size and impact.  To complicate matters, a localised tsunami was generated off the coast of Kaikoura, and the national emergency management agency called for evacuations of coastal zones as a precaution.

The successful Kaikoura social media response was built on years of dedicated work on social media platforms, beginning in 2010. Following the devastating earthquakes in Canterbury 2010/2011, GeoNet became a household name and we discovered the importance of social media to get information out to large numbers of people quickly. New Zealand’s geological activity has kept pace since the Canterbury earthquakes, including volcanic eruptions on Tongariro (2012/2013), White Island (ongoing), and large earthquakes including Cook Strait (2013) and Eketahuna (2014).

With more than 100,000 people on Facebook and 60,000 people on Twitter, GeoNet has become one of the most followed public agencies in New Zealand.   We have also engaged on other social media forums including Reddit to ensure personalised voice and perspectives.

This presentation will examine at the various forms of social media and how we have used them to get information out during earthquakes, volcano eruptions and tsunamis, and will include lessons we learned along the way.

For more information on the 2017 Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference and to secure your spot, visit www.anzdmc.com.au.