Sticking with Landlines? Citizens’ Use and Perception of Social Media in Emergencies and Expectations Towards Emergency Services in Germany

Jasmin Haunschild1, Marc-André Kaufhold1, 2, and Christian Reuter1

1 Technische Universität Darmstadt, Science and Technology for Peace and Security (PEASEC), Darmstadt, Germany; 2 University of Siegen, Institute for Information Systems, KontiKat, Siegen, Germany

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Crisis informatics has examined the use, potentials and weaknesses of social media in emergencies across different events (e.g., man-made, natural or hybrid), countries and heterogeneous participants (e.g., citizens or emergency services) for almost two decades. While most research analyzes specific cases, few studies have focused on citizens’ perceptions of different social media platforms in emergencies using a representative sample. Basing our questionnaire on a workshop with police officers, we present the results of a representative study on citizens’ perception of social media in emergencies that we conducted in Germany. Our study suggests that when it comes to emergencies, socio-demographic differences are largely insignificant and no clear preferences for emergency services’ social media strategies exist. Due to the widespread searching behavior on some platforms, emergency services can reach a wide audience by turning to certain channels but should account for groups with distinct preferences.

Keywords: Social Media, Emergency Management, Police Departments, Use and Expectations, Quantitative Research

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