Conference PaperPDF Available

An Introduction for System Developers to Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery



Technological advances, such as software tools for citizen reporting, first responder support, and online collaborative information management and mapping, are enabling new or improved forms of volunteering in humanitarian crisis. However, the change is largely driven by the technical community and many proposed solutions are never integrated into community response efforts, indicating mismatches between designs and real world needs. This paper offers readers with a technical background insight into roles, goals and constraints of humanitarian crisis response. In particular, we present three seemingly conflicting views regarding how citizens can contribute to response activities as spontaneous volunteers. With examples from two field studies and grounded in literature review, we integrate the three viewpoints into a framework explaining how the roles of volunteers and trained professionals shift with increasing severity and scale of a crisis. Based on this framework, we also discuss high-level opportunities for supporting crisis response with new software tools.
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
An Introduction for System Developers to Volunteer
Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Jakob Rogstadius
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Claudio Teixeira
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute,
Evangelos Karapanos
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Vassilis Kostakos
University of Oulu
Technological advances, such as software tools for citizen reporting, first responder support, and online
collaborative information management and mapping, are enabling new or improved forms of volunteering in
humanitarian crisis. However, the change is largely driven by the technical community and many proposed
solutions are never integrated into community response efforts, indicating mismatches between designs and real
world needs. This paper offers readers with a technical background insight into roles, goals and constraints of
humanitarian crisis response. In particular, we present three seemingly conflicting views regarding how citizens
can contribute to response activities as spontaneous volunteers. With examples from two field studies and
grounded in literature review, we integrate the three viewpoints into a framework explaining how the roles of
volunteers and trained professionals shift with increasing severity and scale of a crisis. Based on this framework,
we also discuss high-level opportunities for supporting crisis response with new software tools.
Crisis management, disaster response, volunteering, collaboration, system development, developer guidelines
Volunteering is a natural part of human society that it is defined by the United Nations General Assembly as
activities that are of benefit to others outside of the household, which are carried out by free will and without
being motivated by financial reward [33]. In communities affected by crisis or disaster, volunteering can take
many forms. Whether the crisis is a small emergency such as a car crash, or a major disaster such as an
earthquake, volunteering citizens form the first line of response before trained professionals arrive at the scene
to help those in need. During larger-scale events, significant parts of the recovery efforts are also often handled
by volunteer organizations such as the Red Cross or people with a general desire to help who arrive from outside
of the affected community [1].
Though many disaster volunteers may lack formal training in emergency response, some are highly trained in
skills that may be of use in response activities, such as counseling, geographic information systems (GIS),
healthcare, construction or operation of heavy machinery. They may be affiliated with a volunteer organization,
either by having previously registered to receive training in advance or by enlisting with an organization during
the disaster. Alternatively, they may be unaffiliated and on their own initiative attempt to help without any form
of centralized coordination. Organizations can also volunteer, by offering their services, equipment or staff for
use in response without financial compensation. In addition, volunteers can come both from within the affected
community, in which case they bring important local knowledge to the response, or arrive from outside of the
community with a general desire to help. [4, 9, 33, 36].
Stallings and Quarantelli [31] determined that there are three major activities of emergent groups during
response: damage assessment, operations and coordination. In practice, this typically consists of small-scale and
low-risk operational activities such as clearing debris, provision of food and supplies, driving and transportation,
emotional support for victims, medical and psychological aid, building and construction, lightweight search and
rescue, animal rescue, searching for lost personal items, translation, registering volunteers and matching needs
with skills, and data entry [1, 4, 5]. More complex activities have also been documented, including setting up
wireless communication infrastructure [40], and setting up and operating a disaster relief center as well as a new
bus route for transportation [39]. Aguirre (as cited in [9]) also describes an instance of volunteers developing an
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
ad-hoc logistics network.
Advances in Internet and Communication Technologies (ICT) have also enabled new forms of online
volunteering that are in many ways reshaping the crisis management landscape. A recent report [15] summarizes
emerging approaches to disaster volunteering and provides a detailed account of how in the aftermath of the
2010 Haiti earthquake several new technologies were for the first time combined into effective systems for
disaster response. Despite severely damaged local infrastructure, many victims were able to send reports of
needs via SMS to Twitter. Members of the Haitian diaspora in the United States then translated the reports from
the native Creole into English. Others collected and entered them into the Ushahidi [34] platform, which lets
users enter reports, annotate them with basic meta-data such as location, and present the reports on a map with
topic filters. Online volunteers also used the Open Street Map platform to construct new digital base maps based
on high-resolution satellite imagery of the disaster area that was made available. The United Nations Office for
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has credited volunteers and the tech. community with collecting
more information during the first 48 hours of disasters than OCHA normally does during the first week [35].
With such rapid development of new tools and technologies, research on online disaster volunteering has mostly
focused on documenting how communities have made use of different communication platforms in disaster.
Examples include studies of discussion forums [26], Flickr [19], Twitter [17, 23, 32], and combinations of
several platforms [25]. Some researchers have argued the need for particular new types of systems [30, 41] and
several projects have produced software tools and prototypes to improve different aspects of information
management in disaster [15, 11, 21, 29, 34, 38].
However, few of these proposed tools have gained widespread use in practice, indicating a mismatch between
system functionality and actual needs. A recent report by OCHA [35] also highlights that research is needed to
further document decision makers’ needs as well as outlining suitable procedures for volunteer management. In
addition, we find almost no literature that discusses how officials should interact with or support online
volunteers, how online information systems in use relate to on-the-ground disaster response, or whether such
volunteer-based information management is indeed beneficial during all humanitarian crises.
A rigorous understanding of user roles, goals, context, environmental and technological constraints is a
prerequisite for any successful development of complex software tools. Within the disaster response community
there is however a tendency for new software platforms to be developed not by experienced disaster response
professionals, but by members of a growing technical community who possesses technical expertise but lacks
relevant field experience as crisis responders.
The main contribution of this paper is an overview of the roles of volunteers and trained professionals in
response to humanitarian crises, as well as how these roles change with variations in scale and complexity of the
crisis. The overview is targeted at readers with a technical background who wish to develop systems that
support effective response, information management and collaboration by any of the covered stakeholders;
trained professionals, victims, community members or remote online volunteers. Such an overview is primarily
helpful for developers to better select specific use cases to focus on and to design features that better match real
world constraints in a domain where standard observational techniques are often expensive, difficult or even
dangerous to apply.
The scope of this paper is primarily the interactions between professional disaster response organizations and
unaffiliated/untrained spontaneous volunteers from within an affected community. Other forms of volunteering
are significant, however. For instance, a discussion of unaffiliated external volunteers who arrive at the scene
following a disaster is presented in [36]. Similarly, the integration of trained disaster volunteers affiliated with
volunteer organizations or professional response organizations is discussed in [2], while a broader study of
volunteering in general is presented in [33].
In addition, crisis management consists of several stages, including mitigation, preparedness, response and
recovery. This paper only aims to provide guidance for developers of technical tools for empowering
communities in the response and recovery phases. Use cases in the remaining phases are left for future work.
Two field studies are presented, covering the roles of professional response organizations and spontaneous
volunteers in response to emergencies and disasters that affect the community. Both studies are from the
Portuguese island of Madeira, which is an autonomous region relatively isolated from the mainland, making it
suitable for holistic community studies. The studies illustrate several opportunities for how professional and
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
volunteer interaction can be increased and improved, and the observations particularly help us understand how
information management systems targeted also at volunteers can help communities coordinate their response
and better recover from disasters that overwhelm the community’s official response capacity.
February 2010 Floods
The island of Madeira is exceptionally mountainous and cities and villages are typically located in valleys or
along the coast, where water from the mountains forms natural or artificial rivers that pass through the centers of
the populated areas. Madeira has a population of 268,000, of which half lives in or near the regional capital,
Funchal. In February 2010 the island was hit by unanticipated and extremely high rainfall, resulting in water
surging down from the mountains and causing flash floods that overwhelmed the riverbanks and flood
protection systems in many populated areas. Funchal was hardest hit, but damage was also recorded around the
island, including one village reachable only through a tunnel, which remained isolated for days until the army
broke through the obstacles. According to the local Civil Defense organization, the community had very little
experience with this type of event, and therefore the local resilience was relatively low. Although less than 100
people died, the floods caused significant damage to infrastructure and homes, and many people were
temporarily displaced.
Approximately 12 months after the floods, reports were collected from articles in local newspapers, status
updates and photo albums on social media, and online video-sharing sites. The videos proved to be particularly
informative, as locals were recorded discussing events at the time and location of the recording. In-depth semi-
structured interviews were held with a flood victim living in the most affected street of Funchal, a person living
further from the center, and twice with a manager from the local emergency response organization. Interviews
were audio recorded and selected sections were transcribed. Because the authors themselves are residents of the
affected community, the conclusions are also based on informal discussions with approximately 18 victims, five
spontaneous volunteers and ten professional emergency responders, and follow-up questions were asked to
verify the details reported in this paper. In most cases, the subjects had first-hand experiences only from within
Funchal. Together, these sources helped us piece together the “big picture” of the event, as well as the response
efforts that took place by volunteers and professionals. Here we describe our findings in relation to the roles and
responsibilities of officials and volunteers in the community’s response to the disaster, and the interaction
between these two groups.
Community Recovery through Parallel Efforts
While most non-officials perceived that officials had used their resources well and had responded rapidly to the
event, the floods quickly reached a point that overwhelmed the official emergency response resources and
professional responders were forced to prioritize. According to the Civil Defense organization, most resources
were deployed in the hardest hit areas of Funchal, while in some remote or less affected locations no official
response was present until days after the floods hit. Official efforts made use of heavy machinery for redirecting
torrents of water, mud and rocks away from critical facilities, clearing canals and waterways from debris, and
performing search and rescue operations for victims trapped in flooded buildings. Additional resources were
incorporated into the organization, such as construction equipment with civilian operators, but these were paid
for rather than volunteered.
Our data however shows that due to the large scale and mostly low severity of the damage, most of the cleanup
was in fact handled through a great number of small-scale response efforts by spontaneous volunteers. Victims
took care of their own property, and locals who were not first-hand victims supported those in greater need.
Mostly they cleaned mud and water from affected basements belonging to relatives, friends, neighbors,
acquaintances or employers. Though improvised, some of these efforts were relatively well organized. For
example, one effort centered on a large office building and involved over 50 people, with equipment such as
shovels, buckets and brooms being provided to volunteers on arrival.
One interviewee from Funchal described calling emergency services to request help with his flooded basement,
but was informed that all resources were deployed elsewhere and no help was available. He and his family then
began cleaning what they could, and soon neighbors joined. TV footage showing his affected street led some of
his friends to infer that he may be in need of assistance and they too arrived to help. The interviewee described
how his self-confidence increased and his perceived need for official help decreased as the results of their
collaborative efforts began to materialize. This is one of several reports we have on how members of the
community first became aware that no official help was available and then how groups emerged to handle
localized response and to gather and distribute resources such as freshwater, tools, as well as information such
as when water and electricity was expected to return.
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
Several victims told us how official sources including the SOS call center were unable to provide them with
useful information, or were completely unreachable in the case of the local electricity company. Many reported
that in the absence of better sources they had approached operational personnel on the ground to seek out
contextual information and advice, but that officials too lacked sufficient situational awareness. Others told us
they felt police were giving them inaccurate or outdated information and that as a consequence their trust in the
official capacity decreased.
An interviewee who lived in one of the hardest hit streets described how he lacked sufficient information and
situation awareness to make an informed decision regarding whether to leave home or not. Though he was in
contact with several professionals on the ground and had access to local public radio and phone communication,
the information he managed to collect was not specific enough to offer him or his family any guidance. What he
wanted to know was “what are they doing, is the electricity coming back, what's the dimension of this, [and]
when is everything going to be alright again”. 24 hours after the flooding began, the family’s situation
awareness was still extremely limited and, despite fear of looting, the family finally decided to evacuate to a
hotel. Only there did they became aware of the magnitude of the disaster, from watching citizen footage on
YouTube and by talking to others who were better informed. The interviewee explained that in future disasters,
he “would just take [his] stuff and leave the house” as “it is not worth staying at home if you have zero
information”. The family inferred that it was safe to return to their home after passing TV footage of their area
revealed that their street was being cleared. Regarding how the officials handled the response, he explained that
I really don’t think the municipality could have done more, except for the information part. There should be
preventive information, or reactive information at the time it was happening, so people would go out of their
Despite the prevalence of spontaneous volunteerism and the general satisfaction among non-officials regarding
the official response, the only evidence we have of any collaboration between spontaneous volunteers and
professional responders is a single video clip in which locals assist firemen searching for survivors and
retrieving a corpse. A manager from the Civil Defense reported that a group of volunteers had been in touch
with him, but that he refused their assistance due to being too busy to find tasks for and supervise volunteers.
One interviewee living in an unaffected area of Funchal also expressed how she wanted to do something to help,
but did not know how or who to contact, and she was afraid that if she was to volunteer she might get in the way
of officials. This gave her a strong feeling of inadequacy.
October 2011 Full-Scale Exercise
Our second field study is of a full-scale emergency training exercise held in Madeira in 2011 by the Civil
Defense authority. This was conducted in accordance to international security norms of civil aviation and had
the following emergency scenario. On the 22nd of October 2011, at 09:00 an A330 aircraft carrying 147 civilian
passengers and eight crew members was approaching Madeira’s airport for landing, but had a technical problem
that resulted in a controlled emergency landing in the ocean (ditching) around 10 km from the airport. As the
plane ditched, an alert was given by the Airport Operations and Services to the Civil Defense (SOS). Out of the
155 victims, 48 died on impact, 83 were injured and 3 were missing.
All emergency handling procedures were initiated and coordinated by the Civil Defense and one of the key
goals of this exercise was to train interaction between the different entities expected to take part in response to a
major emergency affecting the community; civil defense, several fire departments including volunteer sea
rescue, navy, fast medical intervention, local hospitals, social security services and the Red Cross. Rescue
activities took place on water, land and air and were centered on rescuing victims from the water at the crash
site, transporting them to land for physical and psychological examination, and transporting injured victims to a
nearby hospital.
An initial planning meeting was held with the Civil Defense and representatives from involved fire departments,
sea rescue, medical team, military, and commanders at operational, tactical and strategic level, to get an
understanding of the events that would take place during the exercise. Following this meeting, contextual
inquiries [16] were conducted on-site during the exercise, covering the activities of the full six-hour time-
window. Two researchers were located at the mobile strategic command center, which was a van in close
proximity to the main exercise events. They directly observed the actions and decisions at the strategic level,
and monitored communications between the strategic command and the subordinate operational command level.
The observations from audio logs, photographs and paper notes were organized and the categorization was
iterated by three researchers. Photographs of the operational activities were also collected to support
understanding of the exercise as a whole.
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
Opportunities for Volunteer Integration in Full-scale Exercises
This exercise illustrates how communities allocate resources and training for handling emergencies up to a
greatest expected scale, beyond which crises become disasters. Up to this scale, different official organizations
have clearly defined roles and operate according to protocols that are gradually refined over time, and
organizations strive to rapidly gain command and control of the situation using the resources the community has
allocated to them.
Despite being a full-scale exercise designed to approach the limits of the response organization and to train
interaction between all entities expected to take part in real response, we saw no presence of the spontaneous
volunteer elements that were so prevalent during the 2010 floods, neither as a disruptive element, a resource, or
an independent response entity. As external observers, we initially found this natural, as the emergency, while
severe in nature, was well localized in time and space and trained professionals were available to respond.
However, with the flooding disaster in fresh memory we analyzed the response organization as a pipeline for
transporting victims from the crash site to the hospital, and we quickly identified a clear bottleneck where
incorporation of volunteer resources could have improved the capacity of the response and likely saved lives,
had it been a real emergency. The location of the ditched plane was relatively far from the area where medical
facilities had been set up, and travel time between the two sites was significant in comparison to loading and
unloading procedures. Due to the high number of passengers and the limited capacity of the two available rescue
boats, multiple trips had to be made and several hours passed before all passengers could be transported safely
to shore. However, the airport is located along the seashore with two nearby harbors reachable by boat in
approximately five minutes. Requesting of additional vessels from either of these harbors, or simulation of
volunteers spontaneously arriving at the crash site with boats, was not part of the exercise. The Civil Defense
organization confirmed in discussions that integration of volunteered transportation resources in the described
manner would indeed be beneficial in a real ditching event.
This example highlights how the professional emergency response organizations did not attempt to identify
resource shortages which led to bottlenecks in their response effort, nor did they make any attempts to mitigate
such shortages by requesting or making use of spontaneous volunteers around them. As this was the type of
exercise that is specifically designed to prepare the community’s responders for the greatest crises it will face, it
partly explains the low levels of communication and collaboration between officials and spontaneous volunteers
that were observed during the floods.
This exercise also allowed us to study the high-level information flow between different parts of the response
organization. Much of this information related to the organization’s own operations and is meant for internal
purposes only, such as precise location and activities of staff and vehicles. For safety reasons this information
should not leave the organization, nor can it realistically be tracked or reported by independent volunteers. Other
information, such as the location, type and severity of the accident, as well as the presence or non-presence of
trained responders, is not confidential and could thus be shared openly with the public. Often the public is also
the source, for instance through SOS calls. Such information also bears close resemblance to that information
which during the floods incentivized volunteering, and helped connect potential volunteers with suitable tasks.
If system developers wish to support crisis response, they need a grounded understanding of the responder
groups likely to be present during response activities, their desirable actions and interactions and the types of
information they require. Without such understanding, it is difficult for developers to define and select realistic
use cases to guide the design, and system development becomes largely based on experimentation. We therefore
reviewed literature to broaden the picture of interactions between spontaneous disaster volunteers how
professional responders, to better understand the two roles and the challenges they face.
What emerged was three radically different viewpoints regarding the role of volunteers in crisis response; i)
unsolicited volunteers are a disturbance for professional emergency responders, ii) volunteers are a valuable
resource for response organizations to achieve scalability, and iii) independent efforts by spontaneous volunteers
are critical for community recovery and trained professionals are a supporting resource during such response.
This section presents the three viewpoints together with concrete examples from the case studies. We then
present a continuous framework for the volunteer role that explains how spontaneous volunteers increasingly
shoulder the responsibilities normally handled by professional responders, as the scale of emergency increases
towards and beyond the capacity of the resources the community has dedicated to crisis management.
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
Volunteers as a Disruptive Element
Since the 1950s, the traditional model for disaster response has assumed that emergencies are characterized by
chaos and that citizens affected by disaster are seen as victims who due to traumatization and inexperience with
disaster conditions are unable to respond effectively to the new situation. Successful response is therefore
dependent on intervention by specialist emergency response organizations that are capable of regaining
command and control in these chaotic situations [6].
From this viewpoint, Halford et al. and Wenger (as cited in [20]) describe how the convergence of volunteers
can be problematic to relief efforts, and even disruptive. Furthermore, Green [13] provides accounts from over
ten studies of how independent unaffiliated volunteers, even when experienced in disaster response, may cause
major management problems for the response organization, reduce overall efficiency, hamper coordination,
expose responders to unnecessary risks, increases death tolls, and direct resources away from secondary needs.
Untrained volunteers who approach response organizations to offer their capacity may themselves require more
assistance from a strained organization than they contribute to the resolution of the problem, by requiring
transportation, supervision and equipment. In short, the traditional model for professional emergency response
treats professional teams as efficient units that ideally operate without volunteer involvement.
The studied community’s professional response organization to a great extent shares this mindset. Managers and
training protocols strongly emphasize the need for control and express great concern that involvement of
unsolicited volunteers increases rather than reduces official workload, for instance if citizens involved in
unsupervised response efforts injure themselves or hinder situational control.
Volunteers as a Resource
The view of volunteers primarily as a disruptive element has been criticized for its lack of scalability to meet
large-scale needs that go beyond the capacity of official response organizations. Therefore, several authors have
argued that officials should reach out to communities in non-disaster time to recruit, train and integrate
volunteers into the operational structure [2, 10, 12].
This has been proposed as a cost-effective way of greatly scaling up the traditional organizational structure in
time of great need, particularly suitable for responding to recurrent large-scale crises such as wildfires and
earthquakes. Australian volunteer groups are able to field over 500,000 trained members throughout the country
[8] and in China over 100 million volunteers have been registered and trained for disaster response [3].
Volunteers with less training can be assigned to routine tasks, letting professionals focus on the tasks they are
most qualified for. Volunteers can also handle tasks that go beyond the official capacity, such as offering
comfort and encouragement to victims and helping to recover pets and personal items. We note a connection
between volunteer integration and creativity, with some work arguing that creative capacity should be enhanced
through planning and training [18].
Two recent handbooks in disaster management [36, 37] note that volunteers will emerge in large-scale disaster
regardless of the attitude of official response organizations. The handbooks then discuss how to best maintain
official control in the presence of spontaneous volunteers. They include best practices for assessing volunteer
skills and matching them with needs, keeping volunteers away until it is safe for them to enter affected areas,
and integrating volunteers into official response efforts. However, these handbooks maintain the view of
disaster-affected citizens mostly as victims and discuss volunteers almost exclusively as locals who have gone
through pre-disaster registration and training, or as non-locals who arrive at the scene to help after the disaster
has taken place. Neither handbook discusses how to collaborate with or empower victims who act on their own
initiative as unaffiliated volunteers after a disaster has struck. According to the handbooks, untrained and
unaffiliated volunteers should not be allowed to enter the disaster area during the early response phase as the
risk of personal injury is too great.
In the studied community, we saw several opportunities for how this mindset could be put in practice. After the
floods, heavy machinery was requested from local construction companies to support clearing of obstacles from
canals. Similarly, during the plane ditching exercise, a shortage of rubber boats used to recover victims from the
water could have been mitigated through requisition of vessels from nearby harbors. Early spontaneous
volunteers who approached the crash site could also have been directed to a standby area, where a pool of
resources would be available once safe and suitable tasks (e.g. transportation or data entry) have been identified.
Officials as a Resource for Volunteers
Critique has been directed also at the view of volunteers as a resource, arguing that its fundamental command
and control approach is not a suitable model for response to larger disasters [27]. Organizations that coordinate
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
primarily by plan, including police, firefighters and volunteer organizations, often “refuse” non-traditional tasks
in disaster situations. Rather than increase their capabilities to meet the increased demands, such organizations
tend to accept only those demands that are within their present capabilities [7]. This is in part due to the
difficulties naturally associated with integrating untrained volunteers into a strict hierarchical organization.
This is in full agreement with our observations from the field, where officials train primarily to gain control in
emergency situations. During the flooding disaster, which was far too large-scale for all intervention to be
controlled, the organization sought to satisfy its desire for control through isolation. Second, officials train to
respond to events that are within the capacity of their organizations and to rely on available professional
resources, and do not involve volunteer elements in training. Consequently, managers felt during the floods that
potential volunteer integration was an additional burden, even when official resources were exhausted.
A study by the Australian Red Cross [4] revealed that two thirds of volunteers who approached the organization
during two large-scale natural disasters were never used by the organization in actual response. An organization
that considers volunteers only as a resource may see this as a surplus or a buffer for future needs, though two
thirds of these unused volunteers reported having negative feelings such as disappointment, frustration and
anger. This may not be surprising, as research has shown that volunteering has therapeutic effects for the
volunteers themselves because it changes their role from that of a passive victim to actively contributing to
resolve problems [20]. Correspondingly, our case study of the floods revealed disappointment among volunteers
who approached officials offering their help, but whose offers were turned down.
When control is a prerequisite for action, response also becomes slower and deployment of official resources
typically takes hours or days for larger disasters. Together with the organizational reluctance to handle problems
outside of the traditional area of responsibility, this means that many needs have to be met by volunteers when
dedicated resources are not yet deployed, exhausted or for other reasons unavailable [7]. Although the
dominating view among professional emergency responders has been one of citizens affected by disaster as
helpless victims, many are in fact highly active participants in the response [33]. Local volunteers form the first
line of response and have the greatest chance to save lives and provide support immediately after the disaster.
Therefore, community coordinators with critical expertise have a responsibility to help facilitate organized
response, and their focus should be on coordination and collaboration rather than control [1, 27].
Spontaneous volunteers also contributed substantially to the flooded community’s recovery, by taking over
operational tasks which under normal circumstances would have been handled by trained professionals, such as
draining flooded basements, clearing debris-covered streets and distributing supplies. For this they required
awareness of needs that fell beyond the capacity of official responders, and coordination to match available
resources with needs. In controllable situations, communication follows a mass-media pattern where official
sources inform the public that everything is under control, to calm victims and to deter involvement. Official
communication during the floods followed the same pattern, with high-level summaries of damage and
intervention being disseminated over radio, TV, Internet and newspapers. Many community members however
sought information that would better support their new role as independent disaster volunteers and instead relied
extensively on personal contacts and phone calls, and partially on social media and passing TV footage, where
informative details could be seen in the background.
The three presented viewpoints are better understood if considered in the light of the scale of a crisis in relation
to the community’s official response capacity. Most emergencies are small enough that one or a few trained
operational teams can fully respond to the needs of the situation, such as a fire in a home where a subset of the
community’s firefighting resources are dispatched to respond, but also localized activities during greater
disasters. When further professional resources are on standby but not deployed, there is no need for volunteer
involvement and volunteers should be kept away from the emergency scene to avoid risks of injury and
interference with trained operational behavior.
Since no volunteer intervention is desired once professional help arrives, the opportunity for technological
support tools targeted at citizen use is mainly limited to citizen reporting and first responder support, for
instance smartphone applications for locating automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs). At the same time,
developers should take care not to incentivize volunteer behavior that may hinder the operations of trained
responders or to take unnecessary risks that may lead to increased victim counts.
As complexity and scale of emergencies increase, needs begin to approach or partly surpass the limits of the
organization’s capacity, which can introduce bottlenecks. During the observed plane ditching exercise this
appeared in the form of an equipment shortage, specifically rubber boats used to recover victims from the
ditched aircraft. This shortage was a clear bottleneck, as additional resources assigned to any other rescue
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
activity would have had no or very little impact on the overall effectiveness. Similarly, personnel shortages can
appear, e.g. during light search and rescue missions that need to cover extensive ground.
The command and control paradigm is however still feasible during medium-scale emergencies and software
tools that encourage independent unsolicited volunteering may be seen as disruptive by officials, in particular if
volunteer activities directly overlap with official activities. Instead, there is an opportunity for tools that assist in
rapidly gaining initial situation awareness, which can shorten the time until response begins, as well as tools that
enable quick identification of bottlenecks, or helps index and match official needs with currently available
volunteered resources.
Full-scale exercises can be used to refine software tools and prepare professional responders for creative use of
volunteers, where the official command structure is maintained but where shortages and holes in the
organization can be patched with volunteered resources. Real world success of software tools in this space will
depend greatly on their inclusion in training exercises and shifts in official policy, which both dictate officials’
operational behavior in real response. It is also extremely challenging for stressed emergency response managers
to in the heat of ongoing response identify safe and novel ways to approach traditional tasks using volunteers.
As Britton [2] notes, it is impractical for a community to allocate too many resources for the sole purpose of
countering the consequences of disaster. This implies that all communities will eventually face situations that go
beyond the capacity of the official emergency response organization, first at operational and then at
management level. Although volunteer efforts may be improvised and lacking in efficiency, the many parallel
efforts become critical for successful community recovery and they should be encouraged. Both in our study of
the floods and in literature, we also find that community members show great understanding for officials’
limitations and willingly strive to find ways to handle lower priority tasks that they see fall beyond the capacity
of professional responders.
During mass disasters, no single responder group has resources to reliably monitor the situation as a whole.
Different stakeholders therefore need to be able to collaborate in collection, management and interpretation of
situational reports and other information. Systems like Ushahidi [22, 34] and CrisisTracker [28] have proven
their ability to contribute to timely situational awareness based on citizen reports collected during large-scale
complex events. However, with the exception of OpenStreetMap [24], we are not aware of any tool that has
been designed or used to facilitate sharing of a single common event model both among official responders and
volunteers. In particular, future systems (and policies) should be designed to provide greater incentives for
official responder organizations to share insensitive datasets openly with regular citizens.
The utility of citizen reports can also be improved by including report templates, clear examples and safety
guidelines into reporting software. This way, volunteers are directly able to begin contributing to collective
situation awareness without further directions from officials, who will be occupied with more pressing matters.
Systems that contribute to better awareness of current needs and ongoing responses enable new responders to
converge to handle unmet needs. Some interviewees reported how they greatly underestimated the scale of the
destruction during the floods until long after the initial event, and subsequently they overestimated the
likelihood of receiving help. If policies and systems are designed to increase transparency of how response
resources are and will be used, affected community members are better able to assess the severity of their own
situation and earlier and better decisions can be made regarding both evacuation and volunteering.
Systems that connect documented best practices and safety advice with relevant responders can also be of great
value, both for volunteers who partake in disaster response for the first time in their lives, and for professional
responders who face specific challenges that have not previously been encountered within the community. The
focus of such systems should be on knowledge transfer between communities. For instance, if lessons learned in
one community affected by unanticipated floods can be documented in a central online repository, then those
lessons can improve recovery from similar events in other communities if systems are capable of effectively
matching them with relevant responders. For instance, Wiki articles describing documented response strategies
to common classes of problems could be automatically paired with problem reports provided by citizens.
Finally, discussions with members of the Civil Defense highlighted that risk of volunteer injury is a primary
concern behind discouragement of independent volunteer initiatives. Official acceptance of volunteers is likely
to increase if systems can encourage volunteers to report their activities, skill sets and personal contact
information, as this would enable officials to monitor activities and intervene where risk of injury is high.
Accessible contact information would also support responders of all types to better coordinate their efforts.
This paper aims to give readers with a technical background an overview of the roles of volunteers and trained
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
professionals in response to humanitarian crises, as well as how these roles change with variations in scale and
complexity of the crisis. We first presented two field studies of real and trained disaster response within a single
community. These studies illustrate the contexts in which professional responders and volunteers operate and
some of the common challenges they face. We then reviewed literature related to volunteering in humanitarian
crisis and highlighted three seemingly conflicting viewpoints that developers may encounter when consulting
literature. These viewpoints respectively claim that i) volunteers are a disruptive element for trained responders,
ii) volunteers are a resource for professional responders, and iii) officials are a resource for community
Examples from the field were then combined with further literature to reconcile the three viewpoints into a
single framework, which explains how local (or remote) volunteers in practice increasingly take over the
responsibilities of a community’s response organizations as the community’s needs go beyond the capacity of its
trained responders. These responsibilities begin with basic operational tasks such as first aid and cleanup of
debris, but extend all the way up to improvised hierarchical organizations for complex information and resource
management. Based on this framework, we also discussed high-level opportunities for new software tools.
1. Brennan, M.A., Barnett, R.V., Flint, G.C. (2005) Community volunteers: The front line of disaster
response, International journal of volunteer administration, 24, 4, 52-56.
2. Britton, N.R. (1991) Permanent disaster volunteers: Where do they fit?, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
Quarterly, 20, 4, 395-414.
3. China Daily. (2009) China's Actions for Disaster Prevention and Reduction. Retrieved from: [Feb 2012].
4. Cottrell, A. (2012) A survey of spontaneous volunteers, Australian Red Cross research report.
5. Dynes, R.R., Quarantelli, E.L., Wenger, D. (1990) Individual and organizational response to the 1985
earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware.
6. Dynes, R.R. (1994) Community emergency planning: False assumptions and inappropriate analogies,
International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 12, 2, 141-158.
7. Dynes, R.R., Aguirre, B.E. (2008) Organizational adaption to crises: Mechanisms of coordination and
structural change, Crisis Management Volume 2, 320-325, ISBN 978-1-84787-088-9.
8. Emergency Management Australia. (2006) Hazards, disasters and your community, 7th ed., ISBN 1-
9. Fernandez, L.S., Barbera, J.A., van Dorp, J.R. (2006) Spontaneous volunteer response to disasters: The
benefits and consequences of good intentions, Journal of Emergency Management. 4, 5, 57-68.
10. Fernandez, L.S. (2007) Volunteer management system design and analysis for disaster response and
recovery, Doctoral dissertation, Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database, UMI No.
11. Frassl, M., Lichtenstern, M., Khider, M., Angermann, M. (2010) Developing a system for information
management in disaster relief – Methodology and requirements, Proc. ISCRAM 2010, Seattle, WA.
12. Gonzalez, M.M. (2005) Citizen involvement in disaster management, Master’s Thesis, Naval Postgraduate
School, NSN 7540-01-280-5500.
13. Green, W.G. (2003) Freelance Response to the Site – Medical Staff Option of Choice?, The AAMA
Executive, 1-16.
14. Gupta, S., Knoblock, C. (2010) Building geospatial mashups to visualize information for crisis
management, Proc. ISCRAM 2010.
15. Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. (2011) Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in
Humanitarian Emergencies, UN Foundation & Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership. Retrieved
from: [Feb 2012].
16. Holtzblatt, K., Jones, S. (1993) Contextual inquiry: A participatory technique for system design,
Participatory Design: Principles and Practices, 177-210.
17. Hughes, A.L., Palen, L. (2009) Twitter adoption and use in mass convergence and emergency events, Proc.
ISCRAM 2009, Göteborg, Sweden.
18. Kendra, J. (2002) Creativity in emergency response after the World Trade Center attack, Presented at the
9th Annual Conference of The International Emergency Management Society.
Rogstadius, et al. Volunteer Roles in Crisis Response and Recovery
Proceedings of the 10th International ISCRAM Conference – Baden-Baden, Germany, May 2013
T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T.Müller, eds.
19. Liu, S.B., Palen, L., Sutton, J., Hughes, A.L., Vieweg, S. (2008) In search of the bigger picture: The
emergent role of on-line photo sharing in times of disaster, Proc. ISCRAM 2008, Washington, DC.
20. Lowe, S., Fothergill, A. (2003) A need to help: Emergent volunteer behavior after September 11th, Beyond
September 11th: An Account of Post-Disaster Research, 293-314.
21. MacEachren, A.M., Robinson, A.C., Jaiswal, A., Pezanowski, S., Savelyev, A., Blanford, J., Mitra, P.
(2011) Geo-Twitter analytics: Applications in crisis management, Proc. 25th International Cartographic
Conference, Paris, France.
22. Meier, P. (2011) “New information technologies and their impact on the humanitarian sector.” International
Review of the Red Cross, 93, 884, 1239-1263.
23. Mills, A., Chen, R., Lee, J.K., Rao, H.R. (2009) Web 2.0 emergency applications: How useful can Twitter
be for emergency response, Journal of Information Privacy & Security, 5, 3, 3-26.
24. OpenStreetMap.
25. Palen, L. (2008) Online social media in crisis events, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 31, 3, 76-78.
26. Qu, Y., Wu, P. F., Wang, X. (2009) Online Community Response to Major Disaster: A Study of Tianya
Forum in the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, Proc. 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences,
IEEE Computer Society, 1-11.
27. Quarantelli, E.L. (2008) Disaster crisis management: A summary of research findings, Crisis Management,
2, 45-56. ISBN 978-1-84787-088-9.
28. Rogstadius, J., Teixeira, C., Vukovic, M., and Kostakos, V., Karapanos, E., Laredo, J. (2013) CrisisTracker:
Crowdsourced Social Media Curation for Disaster Awareness, IBM Journal of Research and Development,
In press.
29. Sahana Foundation.
30. Shneiderman, B., Preece, J. (2007), Science, 351, 5814, 944.
31. Stallings, A., Quarantelli E.L. (1985) Emergent citizen groups and emergency management, Public
Administration Review, 45, 93-100.
32. Starbird, K., Palen, L. (2010) Pass it on? Retweeting in mass emergency, Proc. ISCRAM 2010, Seattle, WA.
33. United Nations Volunteers. (2011) 2011 State of the world’s volunteerism report, ISBN-13: 978-92-1-
191246-0. Retrieved from:[Eng].pdf [Feb 2012].
34. Ushahidi.
35. Verity, A. (2011) OCHA’s Lessons Learned – Collaboration with V&TC in Libya and Japan. Retrieved
from: 1wut8oDRo9BYSlc0hQ34Ng8qQ-
pLVGlRO95WOvR3MN78/edit?hl=en_US [Feb 2012].
36. Volunteer Florida. (2005) Unaffiliated volunteers in response and recovery. Retrieved from:
overy.pdf [March 2012].
37. Volunteers of America. (2009) Disaster related volunteerism – Best practices manual based on lessons
learned from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Retrieved from: [March
38. White, C., Plotnick, L., Kushma, J., Hiltz, S.R., Turoff, M. (2009) An online social network for emergency
management, Proc. ISCRAM 2009, Göteborg, Sweden.
39. Wilson, J., Oyola-Yemaiel, A. (1998) Emergent coordinative groups and women’s response roles in the
central Florida tornado disaster, Ferbruary 23, 1998, Quick Response Report #110, University of
Colorado. Retrieved from: [Feb 2012].
40. Wireless Emergency Response Team. (2001) Final report for the September 11, 2001 New York City Word
Trade Center terrorist attack. Retrieved from: http://www.wert- [Feb 2012].
41. Wu, P.F., Preece, J., Fleischmann, K.R., Golbeck, J., Jaeger, P.T., Shneiderman, B. (2008) Community
response grid (CGR) for a university campus: Design requirements and implications, Proc. ISCRAM 2008,
Washington, DC.
... Pour ce qui est de l'intégration du volontariat spontané, Rogstadius et Karapanos identifient trois points de vue apparemment contradictoires sur la manière dont les citoyens peuvent contribuer aux activités de réponse (Rogstadius & Karapanos, 2013) : ...
... À cela, les auteurs avancent la nécessité de réconcilier ces trois points de vue, notamment autour de l'idée selon laquelle les volontaires spontanés locaux jouent fréquemment un rôle essentiel pour les communautés quand l'ampleur de la crise dépasse la capacité de gestion des acteurs officiels. En ce sens, les volontaires émergents peuvent se voir confier des tâches opérationnelles simples, telles que des premiers secours et le ramassage de débris, mais peuvent s'étendre à des organisations hiérarchiques improvisées pour la gestion complexe d'informations et de ressources (Rogstadius & Karapanos, 2013). Les auteurs indiquent que ces considérations peuvent permettre le développement de systèmes informatiques qui facilitent la connaissance de la situation, afin que les acteurs émergents puissent converger vers des besoins non traités, et améliorer ainsi leur mobilisation vers des tâches pertinentes. ...
... En effet, la plupart des échanges avec les acteurs institutionnels se sont orientés sur des exemples d'évènements de petite ou moyenne ampleur, que les acteurs interrogés ont déjà expérimenté au cours de leur carrière. Ces constats rejoignent les analyses faites par Rogstadius et Karapanos (2013) sur plusieurs crises passées, qui mettent en avant le fait que le soutien des volontaires sera d'autant plus souhaité lorsque les besoins des communautés dépassent les capacités des acteurs professionnels. Ainsi, des crises mineures seront gérées presque exclusivement par les acteurs institutionnels, et à mesure que la situation s'intensifie, les volontaires trouveront leur place pour des tâches opérationnelles simples (premiers secours, nettoyage des débris), puis pour une réponse citoyenne organisée à plus grande échelle lors de crises majeures (gestion des informations, mise en commun de ressources, opérations collectives). ...
Si la gestion des crises de sécurité civile incombe à un ensemble d’institutions et d’acteurs professionnels, l’utilisation grandissante des médias sociaux affirme le rôle majeur joué par les citoyens dans sa mise en œuvre. À partir d’une approche interdisciplinaire (sciences de l’information et de la communication, sciences informatiques), nos travaux proposent d’étudier l’intégration des contributions citoyennes aux dispositifs de gestion de crise, et ce en particulier via les médias sociaux. Ces travaux s’inscrivent dans le champ des crisis informatics, et se présentent selon quatre axes thématiques : i) l’utilisation des médias sociaux par les communautés citoyennes en situation de crise, ii) les pratiques des acteurs professionnels sur l’intégration des contributions citoyennes, iii) les opportunités pour renforcer les interactions professionnels-citoyens en gestion de crise, et iv) l’intégration des initiatives citoyennes au sein d’un outil logiciel pour l’orchestration de la réponse. Premièrement, nos travaux présentent comment les citoyens s’approprient les fonctionnalités des médias sociaux pour répondre à des besoins spécifiques en situation de crise. Ils amènent à reconsidérer la notion de volontariat en gestion de crise, et dressent une cartographie de la diversité des contributions citoyennes qui peuvent être perçues via les médias sociaux. Deuxièmement, nous étudions comment les pratiques des acteurs des Services Départementaux d’Incendie et de Secours (SDIS) intègrent cette émergence de contributions citoyennes. Si l’on note une certaine maturité dans l’usage des médias sociaux en cellule de crise, on observe toutefois certaines réticences qui freinent leur adoption. Pour l’intégration des initiatives citoyennes sur le terrain, les professionnels des SDIS sont généralement frileux à l’idée d’impliquer les citoyens dans leurs missions de secours. En revanche, l’échelle communale semble plus propice à la prise en charge des volontaires.Troisièmement, nos recherches amènent des axes de travail et de réflexion pour accompagner les institutions de sécurité civile dans une meilleure intégration des contributions citoyennes. Ils amènent alors des réflexions théoriques sur la portée collaborative de ces interactions entre professionnels et citoyens.Quatrièmement, nos travaux proposent de modéliser la notion d’initiative citoyenne, et de mettre en place des modes d’orchestration de leur intégration au sein du logiciel R-IO Suite. Avec l’appui d’un cas d’étude, ils illustrent les possibilités pour une cellule de crise de piloter une gestion de crise qui implique acteurs professionnels et acteurs citoyens.
... This includes collaboration both between professional response organizations (e.g. inter-municipality network collaboration) and with citizen volunteers, which could be used more effectively (the Swedish Ministry of Justice, 2015; SOU 2019:7; Rogstadius et al., 2013;Johansson et al., 2018;Murphy, 2020). ...
... Since the thesis's empirical data collection was completed, several crises and emergencies have occurred, including major forest fires (Murphy, 2020) and pandemics (Huang, 2020), with financial instability as one consequence. Government reports and both previous and contemporary literature show that citizen volunteers are an important but still underutilized resource in these crises and emergencies (SOU 2019:7; Rogstadius et al., 2013;Johansson et al., 2018;Murphy, 2020), especially in terms of the possibility to use adaptable ICT systems. Moreover, when the thesis's case study of co-production within emergency response in Sweden's Medelpad Province began in 2014, it was one of the first initiatives of its kind and quickly spread to other municipalities, and to other contexts such as cities, socio-economically vulnerable areas, and internationally (Pilemalm, 2020;Berglund et al., 2018;Pijls et al., 2016). ...
... Supporting vulnerable communities and individuals is considered as an effective way to achieve results under intense pressure and to make progress on sustainable development goals (6). Evidence showed that healthcare system response during a crisis needs to be supported by governmental and non-governmental organizations and volunteers (7,8). The presence and participation of volunteers to provide health services has the potential to fill acute gaps and prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed during COVID-19 crisis (9). ...
Full-text available
Background: The coming various disasters, especially probable pandemics, will need a large number of volunteers with different capabilities. Motivation of volunteers, as a driving force, will be very important for future pandemic disaster planning. The aim of this study was to determine the enablers and barriers to the engagement of healthcare professionals in voluntary activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted at the General Internal Medicine Departments of Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex in Tehran, Iran. A 44-item questionnaire was designed based on the Literature Review and Experts Panel. Items were scored on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from “strongly disagree (1)” to “strongly agree (5)”. Content validity and face validity of the questionnaire were checked by 10 experts and 10 respondents, respectively. Cronbach’s alpha of the items of stimulating and inhibitory factors’ section was calculated 0.83 and 0.92, respectively. A self-administrated paper-based questionnaire has been distributed among healthcare team members. Results: Out of 105 health care professionals, 80 (76.2%) were female and 41 (39%) were married. The most significant demographic predictor of willingness to volunteering was having no child (p-value=0.001). History of infection, admission, or death of family members or friends in the current pandemic was an important factor to reduce the desire to voluntary activities significantly (p-value=0.019). Depressive disorders and using antidepressants had no relation with the attraction to volunteering, but anxiety disorders had a significant relation with the willingness to be a volunteer (p-value=0.04). Conclusion: The most important demographic variables influencing the unwillingness to participate in voluntary activities during the COVID-19 crisis are parenting role, history of anxiety disorders, and history of hospitalization or death of relatives or friends. Furthermore, the voluntary participation of healthcare professionals is influenced by facilitating factors such as giving rewards, reducing the period of obligatory military service, having a sense of altruism, and helping others.
... Для перекладу повідомлень на різні мови були залучені представники діаспори республіки. Зібрана інформація передавалась до рятувальних служб та інших організацій, які надавали допомогу [17]. ...
Full-text available
Соціальна безпека держави, а саме соціальна безпека людей, є ключовим фактором її стабільності та подальшого розвитку. Проте обмежені ресурси, наявні державні структури та організації не завжди можуть повністю забезпечити та підтримати бажаний рівень соціальної безпеки у державі. Саме тому пошук та використання нових підходів до забезпечення соціальної безпеки, є важливим завданням державної політики. Волонтерство може бути важливою складовою соціальної безпеки держави в умовах сьогоденних викликів, а молодь – найактивнішою категорією у процесі волонтерської діяльності. Волонтерська діяльність може бути реалізована фізично або в онлайн середовищі, в залежності від потреб ситуації та можливості самих волонтерів. Важливою є роль волонтерів під час ліквідації наслідків стихійних лих, надзвичайних ситуацій тощо. Проте для отримання позитивних результатів, держава повинна створювати належні умови для розвитку та пропагування волонтерської діяльності. Волонтери можуть допомогти забезпечувати соціальну безпеку України за умови створення загального «клімату участі» у країні та сприянню діяльності волонтерських та благодійних організацій, а саме: мотивувати та заохочувати молодь бути соціально активною та брати участь у волонтерській діяльності; формувати ставлення до волонтерів та такої діяльності зі сторони організаторів та держави не як до безоплатної праці та безплатних робітників, а як до важливого ресурсу, який потрібно берегти, розвивати та підтримувати доступними наявними способами; розвивати та підтримувати різні форми волонтерства як оффлайн так і онлайн; готувати та залучати дітей та молодь до волонтерської діяльності з раннього віку; надавати можливості для волонтерства у різні вікові періоди та протягом всього життя. Подальшого дослідження та ґрунтовного аналізу потребує питання можливостей залучення до волонтерської інших категорій осіб окрім дітей та молоді, а також використання всіх можливостей онлайн-волонтерства, а також його популяризації для забезпечення соціальної безпеки держави.
... More recently CV is however viewed as a reality to be dealt with rather than as an optional add-in (Strandh and Eklund, 2018). Rogstadius et al. (2013) discuss the fact that many technical solutions enabling new or improved forms of volunteering are never integrated into response efforts and conclude that there is a mismatch between designs and real world needs. It would appear that several years on, the situation is much the same and there are few real life IS implementations and solutions for crisis volunteerism (ISCV). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
When crisis volunteerism is enacted, citizens from all walks of life mobilise, and interaction is required between numerous individuals, organisations, authorities and stakeholders involved in the response work. This was evident in Sweden in 2018 when forest fires engulfed parts of the country. At the time, digitalisation and information systems were completely lacking. At the same time, it is noted that many IS solutions that could enable crisis response volunteerism never reach this practice area. Studies have been performed to explore how the crisis volunteerism context needs to be understood with a view to enabling digital transformation and relevant IS design initiatives. Based on these studies, this paper discusses crisis volunteerism and the crisis environment and introduces a preliminary meta-model for understanding these and other components central to the practice of crisis volunteerism.
Die Umwälzungen im Nahen Osten, der sogenannte „Arabische Frühling“, wurden vermehrt in der akademischen Welt diskutiert. In diesem Kapitel wird gezeigt, wie die Wissenschaft mit dem Thema soziale Medien in Konfliktsituationen (mit Fokus auf den Nahen Osten) umgeht.
In Katastrophen und in humanitären Notlagen benutzen davon betroffene Personen aktiv mobile Technologien. Dabei werden große Datenmengen generiert, die für die Hilfsorganisationen wichtige Informationen enthalten können. Das können z. B. Informationen über Art und Umfang der Katastrophe oder Hilfeersuchen von Betroffenen sein. Die Auswertung der Daten und die anschließende Bereitstellung der Ergebnisse kann durch digitale Freiwillige in der humanitären Hilfe, allen voran durch Organisationen des Digital Humanitarian Networks (DHN) oder Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST), erfolgen. Diese Art der digitalen organisatorischen Strukturierung ermöglicht neue Formen des Engagements, die vor allem bei den Einsatzorganisationen aber auch Skepsis und Misstrauen erzeugen können. Wie zahlreiche Beispiele verdeutlichen, können Mittlerorganisationen oder -personen diese jedoch abbauen.
Full-text available
Organization of volunteer personnel and proper management of these enormous and valuable human resources to make that most of their scientific, experiential, physical, and expertise power is of paramount importance, so in disasters and emergencies, lack of proper planning for organizing volunteers in the health sector is one of the most critical issues in the Iranian health system. The primary objective of this study is designing a model for the organization of volunteer people in disasters and emergencies in Tehran’s hospitals, utilizing an integrated approach of Fuzzy Delphi and interpretative structure modeling. The present study is mixed research. This study was conducted during 2017–2018 using the Fuzzy Delphi method to identify and rank the indices. A total of 26 disaster management specialists and experts in the hospitals participated in two rounds in this designed Delphi study. After extracting the primary components through systematic studies and interviews with the experts, two rounds were conducted in the presence of the experts. A structural-interpretive modeling approach was used to interpret the data. The Fuzzy Delphi results after two rounds yielded 11 indices in the form of two criteria. Then, the internal relationships of the criteria were investigated using structural-interpretive modeling, according to which the criteria were classified into three levels. Based on the results of the research, individual characteristics, social characteristics, appropriate type of employment, information strategies in initial enrollment, participatory recruitment methods, information recording methods, type of natural disasters, hospital–volunteers communication system, pre-incident preparation measures of the volunteers, intra-incident and post-incident preparation measures were determined in two indices of selection and preparation using Fuzzy Delphi technique. The results indicated that most of the measures related to the organization of volunteer personnel are interrelated, and preparation indicators of pre-, during, and post-incidents and the individuals’ characteristics are all among the necessary operational measures which can be done by operational managers at the basic levels of organizations. This means that methods and strategies can provide a higher-level context. Ultimately, as expected, this means that other studied indicators influence participatory recruitment methods and the communication system between the hospital and the volunteers. In this regard, the researchers, managers, and policymakers can use the results of the research in policymaking in the field of health care. Organization of volunteer personnel can be of great help to the hospitals in the field of health care.
Full-text available
Das Forschungsprojekt REBEKA (Resilienz von Einsatzkräften bei eigener Betroffenheit in Krisenlagen) untersuchte, wie die Resilienz der Akteure des Bevölkerungsschutzes gesteigert werden kann. In transdisziplinärer Zusammenarbeit von Forschungseinrichtungen und Hilfsorganisationen wurde die Resilienz auf den drei verschiedenen Ebenen Akteure, Prozesse und Strukturen sowie Ressourcen betrachtet. Im Ergebnis wurden psychosoziale Faktoren identifiziert, die die individuelle Resilienz der Einsatzkräfte unterstützen können, prozessuale Resilienzbewertungen erarbeitet, Einbindungskonzepte für Spontanhelfende abgeleitet sowie Sensibilisierungs- und Schulungsmaterialien zur Resilienzsteigerung entwickelt.
Full-text available
The dramatic and tragic events of Hurricane Katrina have highlighted the need for coordinated, community-based volunteer efforts to prepare for, and respond to, natural and other disasters. The recent hurricanes in the Gulf States underscore the problems and shortcomings associated with coordinating outside logistics and show a clear need for local volunteers to serve as the first line of response to such catastrophes. Such disasters are likely to occur again. When disasters do occur, citizen groups and coordinated local volunteers will again be the first responders, and will act to lessen impacts. This article identifies and suggests methods for linking local organizations, recruiting volunteers, and implementing coordinated action plans prior to, and after, the impact of natural disasters. (PDF) Community volunteers: the front line of disaster response. Available from: [accessed Nov 07 2021].
Full-text available
Victims, volunteers and relief organizations are increasingly using social media to report and act upon large-scale events, as witnessed in the extensive coverage of the 2010-2012 Arab Spring uprisings and 2011 Japanese tsunami and nuclear disasters. Twitter feeds consist of short messages, often in nonstandard local language, requiring novel techniques to extract relevant situation awareness data. Existing approaches to mining social media are aimed at searching for specific information, or identifying aggregate trends, rather than providing narratives. We present CrisisTracker, an online system that in real-time efficiently captures distributed situation awareness reports based on social media activity during large-scale events, such as natural disasters. CrisisTracker automatically tracks sets of keywords on Twitter, and constructs stories by clustering related tweets based on their lexical similarity. It integrates crowdsourcing techniques enabling users to verify and analyze stories. We report our experiences from an eight-day CrisisTracker pilot deployment during 2012 focused on the Syrian civil war, processing on average 446000 tweets daily and reducing them to consumable stories through analytics and crowdsourcing. We discuss CrisisTracker's effectiveness based on the usage and feedback from 48 domain experts and volunteer curators.
Full-text available
Online Social Networking Sites (SNS) are becoming extremely popular and can be employed in a variety of contexts. They permit the establishment of global relationships that are domain related or can be based on some general need shared by the participants. Emergency domain related websites, each with their own stated mission, are becoming widespread. Can a social network offer a solution to bringing emergency domain-related entities together as a 'one stop shop?' We propose to investigate whether the social network paradigm can be used to enable individuals and organizations to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways, in all stages of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Emergency management students were surveyed to examine the concept of social networks and their acceptance as a potential tool. The results of this exploratory research show overwhelming agreement that SNS should be considered a viable solution to the problems plaguing information dissemination and communications in the emergency domain.
Twitter is a free, platform-independent, Web 2.0 communication application that allows users to send short (up to 140 characters) electronic messages to other individual users and user groups. Twitter users can send messages to one another via most internet-enabled devices capable of text messaging. This new and unique service offers great potential for rapid and integrated response to disasters. We explore the upsides and the downsides of this free service as a modern communications tool in the hands of disaster response professionals, government agencies, crisis management organizations (CMOs), organizations, and victims of disasters.
New information and communication technologies are impacting the humanitarian sector in profound ways. Both crisis-affected communities and global volunteer networks are becoming increasingly digital. This means that the former are increasingly the source of relevant crisis information, while the latter are becoming more adept at managing and visualizing this information on live crisis maps. This article introduces the field of crisis mapping and provides key examples from Haiti, Russia, Libya, and Somalia to demonstrate how digitally empowered affected communities and volunteer networks are reshaping humanitarian response in the twenty-first century.
Voluntary action scholars and disaster researchers have paid little atten tion to the permanent volunteer in the context of large-scale social crisis. In contrast, there have been many studies on particular types of volun teering behavior in the everyday setting, such as bystander intervention, while many other studies have explored the personality profile and orga nizational settings of full-time career emergency workers, such as police, ambulance, and fire officers. The comparative lack of systematic inquiry on disaster volunteerism has implications for countries like Australia, where the disaster management system relies heavily on a trained and readily available unpaid citizenry. In particular, little practical material is currently available that deals with the management of permanent volun teers as a specific emergency worker group. In an effort to remedy this imbalance and encourage further study of this group, this article explores the characteristics of permanent disaster volunteerism and their location within the existing knowledge framework of volunteerism and voluntary organizations.