Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group Events

More events will be scheduled soon.

Past Events

China and Australia: A comparison of management practices during flood disasters

29th Jun 2018 10:00am

Haibin (Ray) Wu

China and Australia have a high incidence of flood disasters as well as the damage and loss of life that they cause. In 2016, floods in China caused roughly $6.56 billion (AUD) in damages and 968 people lost their lives. In 2011, Australia had 4 large floods in NSW, VIC and QLD where insurance claims were estimated at nearly $2.7 billion (AUD). Both countries have successful flood management approaches underpinned by disaster management methodologies and resource investment shaped by different political systems, culture and law. As a result we see different flood management practices in China and Australia.

This research analyses and compares how both the countries plan for and respond to flood disasters, highlighting their operational differences. This comparison focuses on Chinese and Australian political systems that include: government organization frameworks; the relationship between both local and central governments during flood events; the use of resources (including the military); and laws at different levels. The presentation looks specifically at a comparison of: direct losses; cost of flood response; resource investment; and response time. We find that China is slightly more efficient than Australia in controlling flood management costs but that Australia invests more in flood management practices. It is hoped that lessons can be learned by both countries from developing a better understanding of the flood management practices of both countries.

About the presenter: Haibin (Ray) Wu is a Master's research student at Macquarie University. He is an experienced IT/IS practitioner. His research interests include disaster flood management and understanding cross-cultural issues that impact disaster management efficiency.

Recent developments in systems and technologies for Disaster and Emergency Management (DEM), recovery and resilience

31st May 2018 10:00am

Adjunct Associate Professor Tony Sleigh

This seminar will outline a desktop review of recent developments in systems and technologies for DEM, Recovery and Resilience, highlighting the roadblocks and tipping points for such tools as satellite monitoring; drones; mapping; the common operating picture; communications; field data collection; major events planning; transport, and urban/suburban risks. The seminar will firstly “clip the treetops”, then open up the briefing to wider discussions about these recent developments with the audience.

About the Presenter: Tony Sleigh is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Discipline of Business Information Systems and a founding member of the Interoperability in Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG). He established and built the Emergency Information Co-ordination Unit (EICU) facility in NSW government, where he was: Director, EICU; Principal Architect, Emergency Services Spatial Information Library (ESSIL); Project Director, Spatial Information and Mapping System (SIMS); and Director, Relationship Management to NSW Police; NSW and Federal Government Agencies, Local Governments and Emergency Services Organisations. Tony was also the primary sponsor for an ARC Linkage Grant with Prof. R Goodwin and Dr R Lowe, UNSW, who co-jointly developed 3-D Porosity models of Sydney CBD, including advanced game animation capabilities in model of the City of Sydney, for use in emergency exercises and demonstrations. Tony was a member of the NSW Natural Resources Working Group (2002-11), the SEMC Climate Change Working Group, the National Research for a Secure Australia (NRSA) Group (2005-2010) and National Spatial and Information Management (NSIM) Working Group (2006-2011).

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Sydney Siege, December 2014: A visualisation of a semantic social media sentiment analysis

27th Apr 2018 10:00am

Dr Christian Ehnis

Sentiment Analyses are widely used approaches to understand and identify emotions, feelings, and opinion on social media platforms. Most sentiment analysis systems measure the presumed emotional polarity of texts. While this is sufficient for some applications, these approaches are very limiting when it comes to understanding how social media users actually use language resources to make sense of extreme events. In this presentation, we will explain how Sentiment Analysis has been applied to the Sydney Siege (2014) Twitter data. This sentiment analysis was based on the Appraisal System from the theory of communication called Systemic Functional Linguistics, to better understand the sentiment of event-driven social media communication. A prototype was developed to code and visualise geotagged Twitter data using the Appraisal System. This prototype was applied to tweets collected during and after the Sydney Siege, a hostage situation in a busy café in Sydney’s inner city on the 15th of December 2014. Because the Appraisal System is a theorised functional communication method, the results of this analysis are more nuanced than is possible with traditional polarity based sentiment analysis.

This project is a collaboration with Jan Wendland (University of Duisburg Essen), Rodney Clarke (UOW) & Deborah Bunker (USyd)

About the Presenter: Christian Ehnis is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney Business School in Business Information Systems and a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. He is a founding member of the Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG) and a member of the Digital Disruption Research Group (DDRG). His research interests focus on how technology influences and impacts organisations and society, particularly the use of social media during emergency and disaster events. He has recently completed a project on the Adoption of Social Media Services for Emergency and Disaster Management in Emergency Management Organisations for the communication and interaction with the general public.

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Social media and emergency management organisations

29th Mar 2018 10:00am

Dr Christian Ehnis

Social Media services, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become essential communication tools in disasters and emergency events. People share eyewitness accounts, seek and distribute information about an event, or discuss ongoing situations, to name just a few examples of how social media services are used. To ensure their participation in these communications activities, Emergency Management Organisations (EMOs) have adopted social media services as crucial additional communication channels for emergency and disaster management. It is evident that EMOs are central and trusted participants within emerging and dynamic social communication networks during emergencies and disasters, and that their communication is valued by both media organisations and the general public. EMOs use social media to provide information to, and engage with, the general public and as a source of relevant information during different stages of the disaster management lifecycle.

In this talk, Christian will present the findings of his research on Emergency Management Organisations’ utilisation of Social Media services for Emergency Management.

About the Presenter: Christian Ehnis is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney Business School in Business Information Systems and a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. He is a founding member of the Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG) and a member of the Digital Disruption Research Group (DDRG). His research interests focus on how technology influences and impacts organisations and society, particularly the use of social media during emergency and disaster events. He has recently completed a project on the Adoption of Social Media Services for Emergency and Disaster Management in Emergency Management Organisations for the communication and interaction with the general public.

Convergence Behaviour of Bystanders: An Analysis of 2016 Munich Shooting Twitter Crisis Communication

23rd Feb 2018 10:00am

Professor Deborah Bunker

While convergence behaviour archetypes can explain behaviour of individuals who actively converge on and participate in crises, less is known about individuals who converge on an event and choose to remain passive i.e. “bystanders”. Bystanders are important, because of their proximity to an event and their function as an “eye-witness”. To investigate the role of bystanders in crisis communications we analysed Twitter communication generated from the 2016 Munich Shooting event. Our findings revealed the impassive convergence behaviour archetype could influence an event as a passive and rational “eye-witness”, by gathering and sharing information close to where the event is occurring. 

This research is a collaboration with Mr Milad Mirbabaie and Professor Stefan Steiglitz from the University of Duisburg-Essen.

About the Presenter: Professor Deborah Bunker is a leading international scholar in organizational collaboration and change management in complex organizational and environmental settings. She a member of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage funded Human Health and Social Impacts Node hosted at the University of Sydney, as well as being the Chair and Convener of the Interoperability in Extreme Events Research Group and Chair of the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) Working Group 8.6 (Transfer and Diffusion of IT). Professor Bunker is also a Multi-Disciplinary Advisory Board Member of the Marie Bashir Institute (MBI) at the University of Sydney. Professor Bunker has been a Member of the Research Evaluation Committee (Mathematics, Information and Computing Sciences) for the Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation process (ERA 2015), immediate Past President (2012 - 2014) of the Australian Council of Professors and Heads of IS (ACPHIS) and General (2011, 2014) and Program (2005, 2011) Chair of the Australasian Conference in Information Systems. She has been a Track Co-Chair for the International Conference on IS (ICIS 2015) as well as for the upcoming ICIS in San Francisco in December 2018. Professor Bunker is also a Program Co-Chair for the inaugural ICSRAM Asia Pacific Conference in Wellington, in November 2018.

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Spatial Futures Forum 2017

8th Sep 2017 10:00am-4:00pm

Many advances in information and technologies for personal use, commerce, academic research and government systems, are made possible through recent developments in the Spatial Sciences, be it digital communications, mobile systems, visualisation, field robotics, remote sensing, mobile and satellite technologies.

The demand for better knowledge of Spatial is set to grow faster with big data analytics, autonomous vehicles, logistics, designing the urban environment, emergency services, and many new and testbed technologies, which rely upon ubiquitous location information services.

The aim of this Forum was to bring together researchers and practitioners to share ideas and new knowledge on where Spatial is today and where various leaders from different fields in government, business and academia can share their understanding as to where Spatial is heading in the future.


Spatial drivers and opportunities for NSW
Bruce Thompson, Executive Director, Spatial Services, NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation

From GIS to Ubiquitous Location Intelligence: How technology waves are amplifying the use, users and benefits of location information
Francisco Urbina, Manager, Business Development Strategy, ESRI

Digital Planning Tools for Envisioning City Futures
Professor Chris Pettit, Chair of Urban Science at the University of New South Wales

3D Qld and the Digital Built Environment
Michael Haines, CEO, VANZI Australia, Melbourne

Dr. Zaffar Sadiq Mohamed-Ghouse, Director – Business, Research (New South Wales) & International Relations, CRC Spatial

Crisis Communications and Social Media

29th Apr 2016 8:30am


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.

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

Session 1: Crisis Communication in Action

‘Social Media at the NSW RFS’ - Mr Matt Gould, Online Systems Officer, NSW RFS
‘PetaJakarta Project’ - Professor Pascal Perez, Director SMART Infrastructure Facility, University of Wollongong
‘Ausgrid and Social Media Use’ - Mr Anthony O’Brien, Manager Corporate Affairs, Ausgrid
‘Satellite Imagery Developments for Viewing Impacts’ - Mr Nigel Conolly, Sales and Marketing Manager, Geoplex

Session 2: Issues in Crisis Communication

‘NBN: Operation, Impact and Response’ - Mr Cameron Scott, Network Emergency Management Lead, NBNCo
‘Designing Resilient Communities’ - Igor Hawryszkiewycz, Professor of Computing Sciences, UTS
‘Different Approaches to SM Use’ - Mr Christian Ehnis, Associate Lecturer Business Information Systems, The University of Sydney Business School
‘From Tweets to Situation Awareness: An Overview of Some Data61 Social Media Projects’ - Dr Cecile Paris, Science Leader, CSIRO
‘Evolving Communications &SM Technologies’ - Tony Sleigh, Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Sydney Business School

Building a Dynamic Picture of Disaster Recovery

27th Aug 2015 8:30am

Presentation and Discussion Session

Invited Presentations:

• David Parsons (Chair) Senior Mine Safety Officer, Emergency Management, NSW Department of Industry
• Andrew Richards, Manager, Community Engagement, NSW State Emergency Service
• Rosemary Hegner, Director, Health Emergency Management Unit, Office of the State HSFAC
• Peter Schar, Incident Command & Control System Project, SA Police (Retired)
• Greg Gibbs, Planning Officer, Ministry for Police and Emergency Services, NSW Department of Justice
• Dave Mulally, Media & Public Affairs Advisor, Ausgrid
• Jeremy Thearle, Senior Telecommunications Emergency Management Officer NSW Department of Finance
• John Moore, Manager EICU, Emergency Information Coordination Unit, NSW Land and Property Information

New Approaches and Technologies for Community Resilience and Disaster Recovery

27th Mar 2015 8:30am-6:00pm


Crises and disasters caused by everyday and extreme events are a fact of life. While public safety agencies and NGOs deal with the management of resources, systems and processes in the preparation for, response to and recovery from a disaster, they are not working in isolation from the communities they serve. More often than not, affected communities have an influence on and input to all phases of disaster management most notably in the recovery phase where there is pressure on community resources. In recent times, governments from across the globe have pondered and asked the question: How resilient are communities in the face of disaster? How best can we encourage and create resilient communities?

According to the Australian Government's Social Inclusion Board: "Community resilience means the capacity of communities to respond positively to crises. It is the ability of a community to adapt to pressures and transform itself in a way which makes it more sustainable in the future. Rather than simply 'survive' the stressor or change, a resilient community might respond in creative ways that fundamentally transform the basis of the community."

This symposium deals with the problem of building on and harnessing community resilience during disaster recovery.

Keynote- ‘Design for the Common Good, Networked Problem Solving with Government and Industry’

Rodger Watson, Deputy Director of the Designing Out Crime Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney

Session 1: Designing Community Resilience for Disaster Recovery Worskshop
Facilitators: Professor Igor Hawryszkiewycz, University of Technology Sydney and Professor Deborah Bunker, The University of Sydney Business School

Session 2: New Approaches and Technologies
Facilitator: Mr Tony Sleigh, The University of Sydney Business School

‘Social Media in Community Response’ - Associate Professor Rodney Clarke, University of Wollongong
'Human Resource Management in Overseas Disasters’ - Associate Professor Susan McGrath-Champ, The University of Sydney Business School
‘Information from Above’ - Associate Professor Linlin Ge, UNSW
‘Organizational Design for Extreme Events’ - Dr Jim Rooney, The University of Sydney Business School
‘Community Resilience: Buildings and Infrastructure’ - Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney

Resilient Disaster Systems: Improving Services Delivery to Disaster Areas

19th Sep 2014 8:30am


Keynote- ‘Future directions, issues and challenges for ICT in emergency management’

Richard Host, Executive Director and Chief Information Officer, Fire and Rescue Services

Session 1: Emergency Management: Recovering from a major disaster. How emergency agencies, NGOs and the community are working together to recover and rebuild communities
Facilitator - Dr Stephen Smith, Macquarie University

‘The issues and challenges of recovery in the aftermath of the Blue Mountain Fires of 2013’ Lex Drennan, Senior Manager, Ministry for Police and Emergency Services
‘The challenges of working as a NGO relief agency in disaster areas (local and international)’ - Kate Brady, National Recovery Coordinator, Red Cross Australia
‘How the State Emergency Services (SES) work with the communities during major flood events’ - Andrew Edwards, Executive Director and Chief Information Officer, SES

Session 2: Information, Communications, and Technology in Emergency Management: Issues and future directions in emergency information and communications (including social media).
Facilitator - Dr Stephen Smith, Macquarie University

‘Sahana: a practical information solution path for international disaster Management’ - Tom Worthington, ICT Professional, Lecturer ANU, and Foundation Member of the Sahana Foundation
‘Social Media as a communications tool in emergency management’ - Anthony Clark, Group Manager, Corporate Communications, NSW Rural Fire Service.