Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer and Information Technology

First Advisor

Mihaela Vorvoreanu

Committee Member 1

Eric Dietz

Committee Member 2

Marvin Sarapin


Social media transformed the process of crisis communication. This technology enables the user to communicate with emergency officials as well as the whole virtual world in a click of a button. The emergence of social media in emergency management and its role in raising situational awareness is growing tremendously, making it important for emergency officials to better understand the users' needs and perceptions.

This study's goal is to gain a better understanding of the expectations and perceptions that Purdue associates have regarding the use of social media as it relates to emergencies. The set of interviews conducted in this study provided several insights into the research question as well as direct implications for Purdue emergency officials who seek to utilize social media during emergencies. The findings of this study indicated that there are three main factors that influence the user's decision to resort to social media, which are proximity, severity, and the number of people affected by the emergency. The research findings also demonstrated that people resort to social media during times of need to cope, reach a large crowd, to gain information from unfiltered points of view, and for guidance and direction. Moreover, depending on the type of emergency, users pull or push information, as well as cross check information with other sources.