Key Criteria for Information Quality in the Use of Online Social Media for Emergency Management in New Zealand
Knowledge and information give people the power to make decisions and to act; they are the key to the success of real-time decision making. Social media can be valuable in emergencies where information can be shared to save lives and minimise the human and social impact. Fostering information quality is important in order to validate the information collected for decision making. With the empowerment of the general public and the abundance of information on social media, information quality becomes central to achieving an effective and efficient outcome in emergency response and saving lives. A gap exists in the research in the area of information quality in the use of online social media for emergency management in New Zealand. The research question for this study is: What are the key criteria for fostering information quality in the use of online social media for emergency management in New Zealand? How are they achieved? The data collection method employed was in-depth interviews of members of emergency management organisations in New Zealand. The interviews were followed by participant check. Previous research has identified accuracy, consistency and relevancy as the most frequently acknowledged criteria for information quality. This study found that the three key criteria for information quality in the use of online social media for emergency management in New Zealand are: Using verified and validated information; Using timely information; Building and using networks. There were two conflicts between the criteria: The need to dispel rumours or get time critical information out to the public can be in conflict with making sure that information is verified and trustworthy. The other conflict lies in the desire to control communication on social media, which hinders sharing of information and engagement with the public. It was found that the key criteria for information quality can be achieved by engaging with followers, so that their shared information can be included in the EOCs standard verification processes, and at the same time letting the followers know what the time frame is for new information releases.