RESCUE research on social media use in emergencies

WP 4: Case Study: Social media, “swine flu” and pandemic flu preparedness

This case study will produce a comparative analysis of how social media was used in Norway and the UK during the 2009 H1N1 (‘swine flu’) pandemic; identify how these countries have subsequently incorporated social media into pandemic preparedness planning; and develop (with other project members) improved models of emergency communication using social media, and means of assessing their utility, both for pandemics and more generally. The methodology will be largely qualitative (including key informant interviews) addressing three areas. The first concerns the use of social media by national authorities and is intended to identify the limits of a ‘top down’/vertical approach to social media in crises. The second concerns the use of crowdsourcing for the early identification of a pandemic, the degree of trust in this new methodology and the agility of authorities to respond to data from it. The third addresses the manner in which social media in emergencies can create alternative knowledges through a horizontal distribution of information and opinion – that is, the manner in which the public, communicating with each other through social media, establishes different narratives. The comparison between the three countries will also focus on the interplay between heath authorities and editorial decision in the press.