Student researcher

Sumayyah Ahmad Research Leader

Spontaneous volunteers can assist emergency services in crisis situations by providing complementary expertise and resources. This research analyses advances in technology and social media and how they have enabled spontaneous volunteers to participate in the actual crisis communication for major disasters.

This study will highlight the subtleties of spontaneous volunteers’ experiences, discovering and clarifying their nature and giving them a voice by recording their suggestions. While official responders have mixed feelings towards social media, spontaneous volunteers have taken the lead in utilising these platforms during disasters. This study will enable emergency services managers to understand the process of social media reinvention that can guide their own social media policies and approaches.

The study will focus on three research areas:

  • Describing how social media acts as a resource and facilitates spontaneous volunteers to communicate, collect information, share knowledge and promote their cause and achieve their objectives before, during and after a disaster.
  • It will replicate their experience of social media use for planning, managing, responding and supporting emergency crisis by highlighting their agency, and ability to form bottom-up self-organised groups using their digital voice.
  • Collect suggestions from spontaneous volunteers to provide better communication and integrate them with official responders and traditional volunteer organisations for efficient disaster management.

The research adds methodological significance in addition to theoretical and practical significance in the field.