Using social media in emergencies: survey findings

Using social media in emergencies: survey findings

Summary report from an online survey of UK adults conducted in October 2016.


27 March 2017

Summary report from an online survey of UK adults conducted in October 2016.

The summary report of the findings from an online survey of 2000 adult citizens in the UK was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of the Tavistock Institute between 8th and 9th October 2016.

The main aims of the survey were to explore citizens’ attitudes towards the use of social media for private use and in emergency situations. It was conducted as part of the Emergency Management in Social Media Generation (EmerGent) study.

Key findings are that around a third of adult citizens have used social media in the past to look for or share information during an emergency and that such use is greatest among those aged below 45. People are most likely to use social media to share weather conditions or warnings road or traffic conditions and their own feelings or emotions about the emergency.

The main reasons for not using social media in an emergency include technological concerns – for example that mobile phones would not work properly in an emergency – and concerns over trustworthiness (that information on social media is not reliable). The majority of UK citizens currently do not expect emergency services to respond to messages posted by them on social media – however, the expectation is much greater among younger citizens – suggesting that as time goes by emergency services will increasingly be expected to use social media to communicate with citizens.

Download the report here.

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