Response phase (phase 4)

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Characteristics of the response phase


  • The preparedness plans are implemented and it is important to remember that their feasibility is vital for success.
  • Includes actions taken to save lives, property and environment, and prevent further damage in the crisis situation.
  • Will affect various authorities, NGOs and ad hoc groups, as well as individual citizens.
  • Information exchange and coordination within the response organisation and within the overall response network is essential.
  • It is important that all public groups, including vulnerable groups, have access to timely and correct information.
  • The information targeted at citizens has to be updated continuously and the needs of public groups should be monitored and analysed.

Public perception and motivation

  • There are various groups with different needs and urgency, such as the injured, uninjured, family and friends, those not affected but in immediate danger, etc.
  • The people in most urgent need may not be able to communicate or actively search for information.
  • The role of voluntary and ad hoc groups is important.
  • Depending on the emergency and the local culture, the public may not understand or trust all the information provided.
  • The public needs understandable information on the situation at hand, instead of probabilities and specialist jargon.

Recommendations supporting empowerment in the response phase

  • At this stage active engagement is needed, while failure of the communications infrastructure may make it difficult to reach people, hence alternatives may need attention.
  • The high level of interest and urgency challenges resources. To cope needs good contacts with local groups and communities, non-governmental organisations, other civil society actors and private organisations. The evolving situation calls for developing new forms of collaboration that fit the situation.
  • Providing personally relevant and targeted information continues directly through various channels, and in addition via intermediary organisations.
  • Information and other needs of citizens are clarified by monitoring social and news media, also to counteract the spreading of false information.
  • The public can be asked to share information, for example pictures and videos of damage in the area, with authorities. This can then be shared with others.
  • Spokespersons give meaning to what has happened and show empathy.
  • Citizens can share experiences in social media networks to help cope with the situation. Authorities can link to citizen initiatives on their own channels.

Technology aspects and how it supports the response phase

Technology aspects

  • The technology infrastructure may be severely affected by the crisis. It is important to gather knowledge of the actual status of the relevant communication networks.
  • The authorities will usually have back-up systems at their disposal, although with limited functionality and band width, especially those for field units.
  • FM radio broadcasting will usually function regardless of the emergency.
  • Internet and social media applications may also start to function quite soon, at least in a fragmented manner (i.e. some people can be reached but not all).
  • The re-charging of batteries might be a problem.

How technology can support public resilience

  • Social media applications have good scalability to maintain capacity for high volumes; even when the phone lines are down, the internet might still work.
  • Microblogging services serve well in communicating brief, real-time information updates that might not cross over in traditional mass media.
  • Technological communication solutions enable the public to collaborate and participate in the process, for example by acting as sensors on the ground, utilizing mobile technology, or participating globally from anywhere by taking part in crowdsourcing actions, such as microtasking.
  • Crisis mapping application techniques can visualize crisis developments in real time.
  • Transforming a mass of data into usable information can be done by computational / technological solutions (data mining, crowdsourcing, web-based systems for filtering, searching and analysing information about the crisis situation) or with the help of digital volunteers. The information provided can be validated using various means, such as geo-locating, keywords and language processing, amount of similar or same content posted, and URLs.
  • Multimedia capabilities of mobile phones can be used to adapt information into a form that can more readily be perceived and understood by the phone’s user.
  • Shared platforms (Wikis, Sharepoint, Google Docs) enable several actors to create, share and upload documents from anywhere with internet access in order to coordinate knowledge and action between response organisations.

Examples of best practices