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Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session
TUE4.2: Social media and linguistics as part of an integrative risk management
Time: Tuesday, 28/Aug/2012: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Session Chair: René EGGENBERGER, armasuisse
Location: Flüela

Session organized by Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften


Presentations

Social media and linguistics as part of an integrative risk management

René EGGENBERGER1, Michael SCHANNE2, Zarah ESMAIL3

1armasuisse, Switzerland; 2Zurich University for Applied Sciences, Switzerland; 3Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany

Natural and manmade catastrophes are increasingly large scale and often affect major parts of our multilingual and intercultural societies. Authorities and citizens are facing threats that are new and fuzzy in quality and of impact. The higher the number of possible threats increases the prevention and reaction gets more complex. What actually means that it will become increasingly impossible to prepare a specific answer for each thinkable event? One approach to deal with the above outlined uncertainty is to build up a resilient society. Resilience may be defined in two different ways: In a technical sense it means to provide “robust” infrastructures and systems. “Political” solutions point at a more “robust”, say more “resilient” society. The planned session focuses on the latter understanding and tries to point out social, cultural and linguistic aspects of resilience building as part of an integrative risk management that predominantly bases on risk communication. Timely, professional and comprehensive risk communication that considers linguistic and cultural aspects as well as the exploitation of the potential of social media as well are keys towards a more resilient society. The authors believe – based on research at Zurich University of Applied Sciences and recent field studies – that there is still a huge unexploited potential to set free by using social medias systematically for risk and even crisis communication or for integration into alert conceptions as well. In addition the speakers highlight that it is important to integrate linguistic, cultural and demographic aspects of our societies into risk and crisis communication concepts. To reach at least the majority of people in our societies is the key to enhance resilience.

Therefore authorities, members of emergency agencies and security organizations, scientists and governmental employees are welcome to take part in this session and the follow up discussion.

The session aims to enhance the awareness of authorities and the public on the role of social media and their use to achieve a better communication from authorities to authorities, authorities to citizens and amongst themselves as well. The contribution of media studies and linguistics as scientific disciplines, and the socio-cultural aspects (demographic, cultural, linguistic, and religious) are highlighted as important factors to enhance the resilience of our multilingual and multicultural modern societies.

Description of the Session

It is planned to provide four presentations after a brief introduction by the chairman followed by a panel discussion and a later integration of the audience. The session focuses on the following objectives:

• to provide an analysis of the use and the role that social media played during the Fukushima catastrophe (results of a field study)

• to evaluate the potential of social media as an additional technical mean to improve the communication between authorities and citizens and amongst themselves as well

• to demonstrate the contribution of applied linguistics in real-life situations, especially in case of risk communication and communication on complex technical issues like nuclear risks, preventive measures and the conduct in case of an emergency

• to identify and evaluate the influence of professional communication across the frontiers of language and the behaviour of using social media across the population on the resilience of our multicultural societies.

Expected Outcome

The session should

• provide an overview on how social media were used during the Fukushima catastrophe

• provide a blend of lessons learned and suggestions how to use social media systematically for risk communication and resilience building in our societies

• line out the opportunities, challenges and limits of a better use of social media in favour of an enhanced resilience

• contribute to a better understanding of linguistic and cultural factors affecting risk communication.


Integrative risk management

René EGGENBERGER

armasuisse, Switzerland

Natural and manmade catastrophes are increasingly large scale and often affect major parts of our multilingual and intercultural societies. Authorities and citizens are facing threats that are new and fuzzy in quality an of impact. One approach to deal with uncertainty and complexity is to build up a resilient society. Timely and professional risk communication that considers linguistic and cultural aspects and the exploitation of the potential of social media as well are key towards a more resilient society. There is still a huge unexploited potential to set free by using social media for risk and crisis communication.


Crisis, communication, social media

Michael SCHANNE

Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften

Social media may serve as relevant means of information and communication in times and situations of crisis. This will be exemplified from the case of a combined natural disaster – industrial accident – willful negligence of security and safety standards event (Official Report, Executive Summary: The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission): marine earthquake – tsunami – and the subsequent meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following March 11, 2011.

Social media is a most general term that holds together blogs, micro-blogs, forums, audio-photo-video-sharing, wikis, social bookmarking, social networking and other digital tools and applications that facilitate interactive communication and content exchange among and between individuals, audiences, publics, organizations. On the one hand these may serve as direct means of information and communication. On the other hand these may serve to monitor issues and environments for authorities to get a coherent picture of the situation.


Understanding risk communication: the acceptability of risk communication in a multilingual Europe

Zarah ESMAIL

Bergische Universität Wuppertal

In 2012 CBRN catastrophes have become an even bigger threat to our society. It has therefore become increasingly important to communicate possible risks in this context more effectively and sufficiently in order to better inform citizens of such threats. In our societies today, we have an increase of individuals and groups that use varying linguistic codes and practices of communication. Such codes and practices are bound to increase and become even more complex as countries continue to connect and work together. It is based on these linguistic practices and the corresponding reference frameworks that information is understood and categorized. The English language remains to be important to bridge the gap between the various mentalities (cultural based mentalities, expert vs. lay person mentality etc.) present in risk communication. Risk communication is therefore dependent on the better understanding of these socio-linguistic factors. Until now, the importance of such socio-linguistic factors has not been analyzed sufficiently enough in risk communication research. This presentation aims to explore socio-linguistic factors as influences on risk communication and highlight the importance of a more in-depth analysis of such factors for a more effective and citizen oriented risk communication.



 
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