The role of Internet based services for the Disaster Communications

08 November 2012 - A Workshop on Baku,Azerbaijan


In recent years, during and post disaster period, Internet based services are increasingly used among the devastated people and those who try to rescue and help restoration works.

During the East Japan Great earthquake, a victim in Kesen-numa city sent a mobile email to his family in London calling for immediate rescue. With several retweets on twitter, it reached at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government who then sent helicopters the next morning and saved 446 people who all stayed on the roof surrounded by water and fire overnight. Some service platforms such as Google Personfinder, Sahana and Ushahidi were used after the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand.
Yet in many cases, however, the destruction was so huge that power lines were lost and the communication networks were severely damaged, causing the whole “vacuum of information and communication”. It is only after the infrastructures are recovered, that most rescue teams, governments and NGOs and citizens could start to use Internet based services to dispatch, seek and find information they need.
In this workshop, we will examine how Internet-based communication services were utilized during these disasters, what are the lessons learned, Some case studies and comparative analysis of traditional medium such as TV and newspaper and social network will be discussed. The workshop will focus on the way forward, how we should prepare for any large-scale disaster globally - what type of solutions actually work (government support, free-spectrum, etc).

1. Introduction
2. Lessons learned from the East Japan Great Earthquake: report from the Information Behavior Study (see background paper)
3. The role of Internet-based services and traditional media for disaster management
4. Solutions and work-in-progress - sharing best practices
5. Conclusion