Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - EMERGENT (Emergency Management in Social Media Generation)

Project Context and Objectives:
The overall objective of EmerGent is to understand the positive and negative impact of social media in emergencies in order to:
- enhance the safety and security of citizens before, during and after emergencies,
- strengthen the role of European companies supplying services and products related to EmerGent’s results.
Wherever emergencies or crises occur, ad-hoc communities are built through existing social media channels. These communities are often weakly or not at all connected to emergency management services. Hence, systematic research concerning the effective identification and integration of valuable and reliable information from social media into emergency management processes is required.
A strongly research-oriented methodology is created to achieve five objectives:
- Analyse the impact that social media can have on citizens and emergency management in all its phases.
- Show the positive impact that gathering, qualifying, mining and routing information from social media can have on the management of emergencies.
- Identify the requirements for implementing and evaluating novel methods and tools for integrating social media into emergency management.
- Provide professionals and the public with guidelines for social media use in emergencies.
- Clarify the potential for exploitation of social media in emergencies.
Today the “emergency management cycle” (EMC) with its phases does not capture social media with its highly valuable information. Although existing social apps (e. g. for mobile devices) are sometimes used by citizens to share their observations and feelings, these are only weakly connected to existing emergency services (ES) systems. To achieve the goal of EmerGent the consortium has developed a strong research oriented methodology.
Within the “Analysis of Social Media in Emergencies Today and Tomorrow”, EmerGent investigates the current use of social media during emergencies, and the future potential for citizens and ES involvement within the EMC when using social media. It also performs an analysis of the methods and tools for citizens and ES to integrate on a technical level.
The results of the analysis are used to assess the impact of social media in emergencies through continuous citizen and ES involvement via social media and workshops. This includes the acquisition of users who participate long-term as well as the development of basic infrastructures to maintain and support relationships via social media. The methodology of the impact assessment consists of case studies, analyses of emergencies in the past where social media played a crucial role, workshops with experts and deep content analysis to get precise knowledge about feelings and reactions on both sides.
To handle the vast amount of valuable and distributed information, methods for Information Mining (IM) and Information Quality (IQ) are developed to classify and rate the available and provided data from users. Information Gathering (IG) and Information Routing (IR), including the development of new social apps, is done as part of the “Novel Emergency Management”. The development of new social apps is undertaken to obtain and provide visualisations of the most relevant information (as assessed by EmerGent) integrated with several social network providers.
All analysis and impact assessment results lead to the creation of guidelines. These guidelines enable ES and all other involved stakeholders to understand the benefits of social media and its integration into their process on different levels (conceptual & technical). The insights and results from the studies are incorporated into these guidelines. Through the collection and presentation of Information, the analysis of social media in emergencies will be conducted and IM as well as IQ methods, an IT-system for the “Novel Emergency Management in Social Media Generation”, will be developed.

Project Results:
Within the first 18 months of EmerGent the following significant results have been achieved. The results are divided into WPs.
WP2: Within WP2 the establishment of the concept for the impact assessment was one of the main results (D2.1). Furthermore, the main outcomes included a decision on and clear rationale for the first case study to be conducted (and led to D2.2) as well as the design and agreement of research tools for this case study. We also designed and conducted an online survey among citizens where the analysis led to an online available infograph. Additionally we set up an end-user advisory board (EAB) where we had a first meeting at the end of 2014 in Poland (details can be found on our website). Approximately 50% of the requirements documented in D3.4 user requirements, were either identified or confirmed during the workshop. The overall feedback and experience from the first workshop was very positive and the consortium agreed with the suggestions of EAB members to setup a second workshop in 2015.
WP3: Within WP3, we conducted an analysis of the use of Social Media before, during and after emergencies based on several cases (D3.1). In D3.2 the current information flow, used tools and an outlook towards potentials for all phases for A2C and C2A are described. D3.3 reflects technical and business oriented possibilities and limitations of Social Media and presents the interface for the EmerGent Mobile app. Within D3.4 user requirements are defined and prioritised. We further defined and conducted a survey among ES across Europe. The results of 700 responses are described in D3.6 and have been converted into an online available infograph.
WP4: Within WP4 (focusing in “Information Mining (IM) and Quality (IQ)”) we developed within D4.1 a first draft of the EmerGent ontology based on a profound literature research. In D4.3 a starting point for further in-depth research on data mining methods - in order to build a consistent knowledge discovery process for the identification of emergency related information in social media data - is given. In D4.6 our two subsystems IM and IQ are designed and specified.
WP5: Within WP5 (focusing on “Information Gathering and Presentation”), the design and specification of the API design was described in D5.1 and the Information Routing (IR) in D5.2. In D5.3 the design of the EmerGent Mobile App and the ES interface was presented. D5.4 and D5.5 cover the implementation and verification of the subsystems.
WP6: Within D6.1 the EmerGent architecture was designed taking into account user requirements defined in D3.4. Activities focusing on validation and evaluation are currently ongoing.
WP7: Besides several dissemination activities and the creation of a poster, leaflets and a newsletter, we worked on the analysis of existing guidelines and the structure of the EmerGent guidelines. We also followed our vision of a dissemination campaign to mainly involve citizens into social media use during emergencies, for that we setup the website and associated social media accounts. Deliverables in this WP were finalised in relation to ethical, legal and societal issues (D7.5, D7.6 and D7.9).

Potential Impact:
For the second and last period of EmerGent, all the above activities will be finalised, including the development of guidelines and recommendations for ES and citizens.
Within WP2 6 flooding case studies for the UK, Georgia, Slovenia, Germany, Norway and Poland will be completed and analysed, a focused citizens’ survey will be conducted and at least one more EAB meeting will be organized.
In WP3 the survey among ES will be extended to achieve representative results. In addition, the user requirement will be refined and extend based on validation and evaluation results.
Within WP4 the visualisation concept based on the first prototypes will be finalised. Moreover, the EmerGent framework for IQ will be defined and IM methods will be extended. The EmerGent ontology will be finalised.
In WP5 the gathering and routing will be adjusted and refined. Also the design of the user interfaces (EmerGent Mobile App and ES interface) will be improved and adjusted according to user feedback.
In WP6, the main outcome of the second reporting period is the validation followed by evaluation results.
In WP7 the dissemination and exploitation activities will be continued, a video is currently under production and also further newsletters will be created. The dissemination campaign on will be enhanced and used to disseminate information related to social media use in emergencies. The main outcome of the WP will be the guidelines for the ES and citizens.
To establish a proficient interaction with citizens, ES need to understand the dynamics of Social Media. To this extent, with or without the direct implementation of EmerGent software and toolsets, industries participating in EmerGent are acquiring an important know-how that will enable the possibility to provide Consulting on strategies and impacts of introducing Social Media technology and information (with and without the EmerGent toolset) within PSAPs. Main customers in this sense are ES but also the newly formed VOST (Virtual Operation Support Groups). If the strategy using Social Media has been identified there will be the need to train operators on the use of Social Media in emergencies as well as managing the integration and transition.
The introduction of Social Media and related tools will bring the need of implementing components or small business services to integrate current command and control systems with Social Media toolsets. This will open a business opportunity for developers to adapt their systems to the standard for Interoperability (CAP, EDXL) adopted by EmerGent. The adoption of open standards will give opportunities to a large base of software companies, not only the ones part of the Emergent consortium, but also the one providing the current Command and Control solutions.
The EmerGent ecosystem may be provided as a Software as a service (SaaS) in a cloud environment. In this sense each single component that has been developed, may be offered, sometimes as a standalone service, sometimes in the complete EmerGent offering. Effort should be directed to find a beneficial agreement amongst consortium partners, especially industries and academia, to pave the way for the construction of the EmerGent SaaS and to build correctly the business proposition, scope and, potentially, to study a differentiated offer that may be used at different levels by ES.

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