LINKS ‘Strengthening links between technologies and society for European disaster resilience’ is a project financed by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program. The aim of the project is to conduct a comprehensive study on the uses and impacts of social media and crowdsourcing (SMCS) for disaster management purposes, and to better understand the ways in which the different stakeholders can collaborate in these processes.

The primary objectives of LINKS are twofold.

The project is developing the LINKS Framework, comprised of methods, tools and guidelines for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers, in order to optimize the uses of SMCS in disaster management. The Framework will be evaluated across 5 different cases including earthquakes in Italy, flooding in Denmark, industrial hazards in the Netherland, and drought and terrorism in Germany.

The project is also building a community of key stakeholders engaging with SMCS in disasters, including practitioners, industries, policy/decision makers, scientific communities, and citizens. The LINKS community will be function as a sustainable forum for the ongoing exchange of knowledge, experiences, and best practices around the uses and misuses of SMCS in disasters.

The LINKS Consortium brings together the expertise of 15 participating organizations and 2 associated partners across Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) and beyond (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Japan). The LINKS partners represent EU emergency management and security organizations and networks (European Organization for Security, Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Associations), local and national first responders, civil protection and law enforcement agencies (Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South Eastern Europe, Greater Copenhagen Fire Department, Province of Terni - Civil Protection Office, Security Region Zuid-Limburg, Safety Innovation Center), citizens, public authorities and civil society organizations (Municipality of Frederiksberg, Save the Children Italia ONLUS), business communities and industry (Sitech Services of Chemelot, European Organization for Security), and research institutions (German Police University, Link Campus University, Safety Innovation Center, University College Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen, University of Florence, Vrije University of Amsterdam).

The project is in the early stages. Currently the consortium has held internal seminars and “pilot” workshops with practitioners to better understand how they would include SMCS in their operations in different scenarios, what practices are already in use, and what is needed. The consortium is also working on studies of the state-of-the-art across the three knowledge domains of the project, and in relation to SMCS: disaster risk perception and social vulnerability, the governance processes for disaster management, and the use of technologies in disaster management. Through in-depth literature reviews, these studies identify the present knowledge on the roles in which SMCS plays on perceptions and vulnerabilities in disasters, and the processes and tools which communities use to take action. The outputs from the studies will be made publicly available on the project website, and will form the basis for the development and evaluation of the LINKS Framework across the case assessments in the project.