Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG)

The Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG) research focuses on better integrated and more collaborative management of systems, information and processes, acknowledging that changes to the landscape, such as social media, mobile technologies, agile systems development and cloud computing represent the potential to enhance interoperability in extreme events (for example bushfires, storms, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and extreme temperatures).

IEERG’s research agenda is to address the following questions;

  • Can event scenarios be classified, how are they constructed, do they vary and how can we establish a 'test bank' that can be useful to research and training?
  • Can event scenarios be effective for learning and training support, and what organizational structures and policy development can be employed as levers for achieving interoperability?
  • What techniques for assessment, measurement and action planning are currently in use, what are the shortcomings and what are the opportunities for improvement in these areas?
  • What systems, communications channels and strategies are currently in use and what changes are necessary to improve them?

In answering these questions the IEERG seeks to establish a global presence, national "footprint" and identify and develop artefacts for use in research and practice that facilitate knowledge integration and transfer in the area of interoperability (i.e. research publications, models, frameworks, instruments, training approaches and consulting protocols). We work with IEERG group members and associates from a range of research centres and Universities (within and external to the University of Sydney) as well as organisations within the emergency services sector, including government agencies, services utilities and NGOs.

What we do and Our people.

Recent research projects

Social Media Use in Extreme Events: Evaluating the Trustworthiness of the Source of User-Generated Content (2017 - 2018)

Investigator/s: Deborah Bunker; Christian Ehnis; Abdul Babar

A collaboration with colleagues at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Porfessor Stefan Stieglitz, Milad Mirabaie & Anna-Katharina Jung) - this project is funded by a GO8 DAAD Research Grant.

The availability of light mobile platforms, such as smartphones, and the widespread popular use of social media platforms provide valuable user-generated content during an extreme event. For example, a “google person finder” application was used to obtain information about and search for, missing individuals after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Media organisations also utilise information from social media sources in addition to their own news coverage. Rumours and false information is problematic, due to the potentially negative impacts on the course of an event and lives of individuals. While there is ongoing research about how to identify rumours in social media communication, there is still no appropriate approach for organisations to measure trust and credibility of information generated on social media platforms.

To close this gap, our project investigates how to measure trustworthiness and credibility of an information source, rather than the information itself and then develop a software prototype to automate this process. Our project will utilise a mixed research methods approach. By giving public safety agencies and the media, a better understanding of how to identify trustworthy and credible sources of information on social media platforms during extreme events, community and organisational resilience can be positively impacted.

Social Media and Crisis Response: An Analytical Framework and Tool to aid Emergency Service Agencies (2014 - 2015)

Investigator/s: Deborah Bunker; Kai Riemer; Christian Ehnis

This project is concerned with public safety, looking closely at how social media communication patterns can be analyzed to support Emergency Service Agencies (ESA) during a crisis response.

It seeks to develop:

  1. A better understanding and more effective use of social media by ESA and the general public during a crisis;
  2. Effective use of social media real time communication during crisis events by ESA to better ensure public safety;
  3. Utilization of social media communications by ESA for better resource allocation; and
  4. Identification and fast mitigation of rumors by ESA to de-escalate crisis situations and influence and facilitate public safety in the field.

More research projects »

Past events

  • Crisis Communications and Social Media Symposium

    Keynote - ‘The Brave New World of Social Media’
    Kai Riemer, Professor of Information Technology and Organisation, The University of Sydney Business School

    29 April 2016

    Crises communications in social media are complex for several reasons: crisis type i.e. bushfire, flood, storm, pandemic etc; impact on different stakeholders i.e. individuals, communities, enterprises, government organizations, NGOs etc; rumours and misleading information might be propagated through social and technical networks; or cultural factors may need to be considered i.e. how people communicate, with whom they communicate and by what means etc. While many organisations (academic, public and private) are working on solutions to these requirements, comprehensive methods and approaches that address the complexity of crisis communications and social media, are yet to be explored, tried and tested.

    The Symposium aimed to better understand the current status of social media use for crisis communication and also how this environment can be effectively understood, in order to address future needs. Speakers from government, industry and academia explored ideas and a way forward, for a future research agenda.

  • Building a Dynamic Picture of Disaster Recovery

    Presentation and Discussion Session

    27 August 2015

More past events »