Keywords: emergency communications, cell phone technology, mobile phones, structured interviews, connectedness, emergency management, ICT, crisis management, expectations, mobile communications
Expectation of connectedness and cell phone use in crisis
The wide distribution of cell phones with messaging, e-mail, and instant messaging have enabled the emergence of a culture of connectedness among segments of society. One result of this culture is an expectation of availability that exists among members of social networks. This study explores the potential for this expectation to influence perceptions of using Information Communications Technologies (ICT) during and after a crisis. Online survey and follow-up semi-structured interviews were conducted with Virginia Tech (VT) students, faculty and staff to understand whether expectations of connectedness affected their perceptions of their reachability during crises. Participants with higher expectations of connectedness also reported more problems with reachability. Those with the most problems with reachability differed from those with no reachability problems for many variables including satisfaction with cell phone service, age, number of calls/text messages and extroversion. Results suggest that these communities consider planning how to use ICT during emergencies.