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Local govts’ social media use limited in disasters

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun Only 11 local governments use social media to collect information on post-disaster damage and casualties, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey of 75 local governments across the nation has revealed.

The Yomiuri Shimbun sent a questionnaire in March to the local governments of ordinance-designated cities, prefectural capitals, Tokyo’s 23 wards and the Tokyo metropolitan government. All of them replied.

The survey was aimed at understanding how local governments use social media following a disaster, ahead of the second anniversary of the main shock of the Kumamoto Earthquake on April 16. In their answers, many of the governments noted the difficulty in determining the accuracy of information.

Sixty-seven local governments said they use social media after disasters. Of this figure, 56 only use social media to deliver such information as advice or instructions on evacuations. Eleven local governments also use social media to both collect and deliver information.

“We can confirm the situation with regard to damage by seeing posted images,” said the Itabashi Ward government in Tokyo, which uses social media to both collect and deliver information.

Explaining why they do not use social media, the Saitama and Nagasaki city governments, among others, said, “It’s difficult to ascertain whether information is true.” The Shizuoka and Kyoto city governments were among those who said, “We don’t have enough personnel who check social media.”

Regarding the challenges in conveying information, the Fukushima city government said, “Because of the word limit for Twitter, the volume of information that can be delivered is limited.”

Tokai University Prof. Osamu Uchida, who specializes in disaster information, said: “It’s concerning that local governments don’t have enough administrative personnel following large-scale disasters. Technological innovation is needed to efficiently collect useful information through social media.”

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