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Communications and Technology for Society Research Group

Leadership in emerging communications and IT research
Our holistic approach to research aims to make a major contribution to the use of communications platforms, information systems and technology to solve problems of importance to society.

About us

Communications encompasses many streams of professions, each with their own separate knowledge and complex social systems. The goal of the Communications and Technology for Society Research Group (formerly the Interoperability in Extreme Events Research Group) is to create a holistic body of research that makes communications and technology comprehensive and interoperable to measurably improve societal outcomes.

Areas of research focus that we pursue include:

  • Business systems design
  • Situational awareness
  • Social communications
  • Spatial system technologies
  • Information overload
  • Social media analytics

Our local and international members and associates are drawn from a range of research centres and universities as well as organisations within the emergency services sector, including government response and support agencies, services utilities, non-government organisations, volunteers and community groups, including:

Our people

Meet our academics and researchers.

Professor (Research Affiliate) Deborah Bunker

Dr Daniel Gozman

  • Dr Sandy Arief. Macquarie University
  • Dr Akemi Chatfield, University of Wollongong
  • Professor Rodney Clarke, University of Wollongong
  • Dr Sandra Dwyer, University of Sydney
  • Mr Andrew Edwards, Macquarie University
  • Dr Christian Ehnis, McKinsey Digital
  • Dr Amany Elbanna, University of London
  • Dr Fischer-Preßler, University of Bamberg
  • Professor Linlin Ge, UNSW
  • Dr Asif Gill, UTS
  • Professor Carol Hsu, University of Sydney
  • Dr Linda Levine, University of Sydney
  • Mr Can Peng Luo, NSW LPI EICU
  • Mr Julian Marx, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Mr Milad Mirbabaie, Paderborn University and University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Professor Bjorn Erik Munkvold, University of Agder
  • Dr Vincent Pang, UNSW
  • Mr David Parsons, Director Crisis Management Australia
  • Professor Pascal Perez, University of Wollongong
  • Dr Robert Power, CSIRO
  • Dr Sojen Pradhan, UTS
  • Dr Jim Rooney, ADFA UNSW
  • Ms Maryam Shahbazi, University of Sydney
  • Mr Tony Sleigh, UNSW
  • Dr Stephen Smith, Macquarie University
  • Professor Tania Sorrell, The University of Sydney
  • Professor Stefan Stieglitz, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Mr Ray Wu, University of Sydney

Our research

Explore our latest projects.

Awarded and funded by: Centre of Research Excellence in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID)

Investigators: Professor Tania Sorrell, Professor Deborah Bunker and Dr Christian Ehnis

A collaboration with colleagues at the Marie Bashir Institute and the CREID

This transformational research in public health brings together representatives of key stakeholder groups including NSW Health, health practitioners, impacted agencies and community leaders and members to:

  • identify and understand the scope of influenza impact on the community
  • work on effective social and behavioural strategies and solutions to combat influenza transmission 
  • use these strategies to enable more effective and better managed health crisis communication approaches surrounding influenza outbreaks (with a focus on social media).

Investigators: Professor Deborah Bunker; Adjunct Associate Professor Tony Sleigh; Abdul Babar (UTS); Dr Christian Ehnis

Exploring how Aboriginal families use social media to develop and maintain trusted relationships and engage with public health and emergency agencies in times of crisis. This research provides a unique opportunity to listen to and understand the experiences of Aboriginal people, and how they view and develop trusted relationships. This in turn will allow public health and emergency agencies to work with Aboriginal people to develop a trust-strengthening model to enhance two-way social media communication during public health emergencies.

Investigators: Professor Deborah Bunker; Dr Christian Ehnis; Abdul Babar (UTS)

A collaboration with colleagues at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Professor Stefan Stieglitz, Milad Mirabaie & Anna-Katharina Jung)

This project is funded by a GO8 DAAD Research Grant.

Investigating how to measure trustworthiness and credibility of an information source then develop a software prototype to automate this process. By giving public safety agencies and the media a better understanding of how to identify trustworthy and credible sources of information on social media platforms during extreme events, we can positively impact community and organisational resilience.

Investigators: Professor Deborah Bunker, Linda Levine, Adjunct Associate Professor Tony Sleigh and Dr Christian Ehnis

Examining how best to harness self-organising systems to augment traditional common operating pictures of disaster recovery. Our aim is to develop an integrated approach to situational awareness, resource utilisation and recovery outcome optimisation. We explore the best of command-and-control approaches with the potential arising from self-organising systems that utilise open innovation platforms and tools such as social media. We ask:

  • What fledgling efforts are currently undertaken to address this need?  
  • What is the state of the art and the state of practice?
  • What composite or alternative can be developed to represent the situation at point-in-time during disaster recovery – whether fully coordinated, separated, blended or hybrid models?
  • How will this model (or models) meet the requirements of, and serve as a tool for, all government services, NGOs and the community?

Our events

Explore our upcoming and previous events.

Applying neuroscience to emergency operations centres: Sense making and meaning making
  • 27 July 2018
  • David Parsons, Senior Mine Safety Officer, NSW Department of Industry

Applying neuroscience research to the working environment of an emergency operations centre. Exploring how we make sense of a disaster situation and in turn create a storyline to understand it.

China and Australia: A comparison of management practices during flood disasters
  • 29 June 2018
  • Haibin Wu, Macquarie University

Comparing how China and Australia plan for and respond to flood disasters, highlighting operational differences.

Recent developments in systems and technologies for disaster and emergency management recovery and resilience

Outlining a desktop review of recent developments in systems and technologies in disaster management, highlighting roadblocks and tipping points for tools such as satellite monitoring, drones, mapping, the common operating picture, communications, field data collection, major events planning, transport, and urban and suburban risks.

Sydney Siege, December 2014: A visualisation of a semantic social media sentiment analysis
  • 27 Apr 2018
  • Dr Christian Ehnis

Explaining how sentiment analysis has been applied to the Sydney Siege (2014) Twitter data.

View and download the presentation slides (pdf, 2.2MB).

Social media and emergency management organisations

29 March 2018

Presenting the findings of research on emergency management organisations’ utilisation of social media services for emergency management.

Convergence behaviour of bystanders: An analysis of 2016 Munich shooting

Investigating the role of bystanders in crisis communications through analysis of Twitter communication generated from the 2016 Munich Shooting event, revealing the impassive convergence behaviour archetype could influence an event as a passive and rational eye-witness, by gathering and sharing information close to where the event is occurring. 

View and download the presentation slides (pdf, 995KB).


Professor Deborah Bunker
Professor (Research Affiliate) Deborah Bunker
Academic profile

Dr Daniel Gozman
Dr Daniel Gozman
Academic profile