Inderscience Publishers

The relationship between social and hierarchical communication networks in rural emergency response

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Natural or anthropogenic disasters affect individuals regardless of their ethnicity, social status, or other individual attributes or characteristics. However, the situation can be further complicated in the case of a local volunteer responder. Dual conflict can arise when the emergency volunteer is both a responder and in some way a victim. This dual conflict is especially prevalent in rural communities where the responder is a member of a tightknit community. Consequently, if a hierarchical communication network exists to cascade information to members of the emergency responders' system, we ask: how is the cascading of information affected by this dual obligation? This study examines the impact of such behaviour on information flow and time–to–knowledge for an ordered hierarchical network in competition with a social network. The model demonstrates the impact on information dissemination of both the structure of the responder hierarchy and the rate at which the responders fail to conform to that hierarchy.

Keywords: hierarchical networks, small world networks, cell phones, mobile phones, agent–based modelling, agent–based systems, multi–agent systems, MAS, local volunteers, emergency responders, emergency management, disaster management, rural areas, communication networks, USA, United States, social networks, emergency response, rural communities, cascading information, information flow, time–to–knowledge, information dissemination

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