IWMW10: It’s all gone horribly wrong

Jeremy Speller from UCL talking about disaster communication. Jeremy reflecting on his last presentation at IWMW – on 7th July 2005 – and as Jeremy was about to speak, news started to filter through of the bombings in London.

Jeremy was using the IRC chat channel at IWMW – and this was where he first saw news about the bombings – at 10:08 from the IRC log. Jeremy trying to get through to staff at UCL – no ability to get in contact – feeling of isolation from institution.

Jeremy going to talk about:

  • How institutions respond when there is a crisis
  • What methods can be used to communicate in a crisis
  • And what happens in a real world…

Universities are ‘prepared’ for crisis in that they have a ‘Major Incident Plan’ – will identify key staff, a ‘bunker’ (somewhere remote that can be used to work from), communications. Many places don’t include web team in Major Incident Plan – and they should be in there.

Wide range of types of ‘disaster’.  Not always about ‘hi-tech’ – sometimes only way of communicating is with a megaphone!

However, vast number of wasy of communicating using technology – and you can cascade from one to another – using individuals in the network as ‘megaphones’ [did I get that right?]

  • Email – UCL starting to use Live@edu email from Microsoft – but if you use normal UCL email addresses they get routed via UCL servers before going to live@edu service in Ireland – so need to look at how to use ‘live@edu’ addresses instead.
  • campusM – mobile service …
  • Twitter – example of University of Bath tweeting about campus closure when snow last winter. But unlike email and campusM, not control over it. Could use Audioboo in similar way
  • Facebook – can be fed by same stream as Twitter
  • Non-institutional email – e.g. individual accounts on gmail, hotmail. But how do you get the data? Who keeps it up to date
  • Cellular phone network – difficult to get mobile numbers – people don’t want to give it out – again unreliable data. Also, some disasters cell network goes down
    • use JANET web hosting to provide web host if your local provision goes down – JANET web hosting can run simple web apps – e.g. WordPress – so can use for content
    • JANET txt – can use to send out SMS messages – but comes back to unreliable data, unreliable network, costs can be significant if sending out messages to lots of users (4p per sms message)
  • Shared services – can introduce single points of failure?
  • Other institutions – work together provide mutual services – but some sites perhaps at more risk than others – so London institutions perhaps don’t look like a good place to host services – Jeremy hopes can do more of this though

What happens today?

At UCL, use JANET web hosting, use WordPress – can cross publish to Twitter and back again, which in turn can push to Facebook and/or audioboo.

[Sorry – missed the end of what Jeremy said here – really sorry 🙁 ]

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