Social Media in Crisis: When Professional Responders Meet Digital Volunteers

Amanda Lee Hughes, Andrea H. Tapia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


In this paper, we examine the socio-technical impact that social media has had on coordination between professional emergency responders and digital volunteers. Drawing from the research literature, we outline the problem space and explore ways to improve coordination and collaboration between these two groups. Possible improvements include mediators, revisiting trust, emergency policy and process changes, a bounded social environment, digital volunteer data as context, and computational solutions. As the space matures and collaboration improves, we predict that professional responders will begin to rely on the data and products produced by digital volunteers. Volunteer groups will be challenged to mature as well, to develop volunteer management systems, permanent staff, data management practices, and training for new volunteers to ensure consistent response to professional responders as needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-706
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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