Big Data, Surveillance and Crisis Management: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Big Data, Surveillance and Crisis Management

1st Edition

Edited by Kees Boersma, Chiara Fonio


232 pages

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pub: 2017-08-30
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Big data, surveillance, crisis management. Three largely different and richly researched fields, however, the interplay amongst these three domains is rarely addressed.

In this enlightening title, the link between these three fields is explored in a consequential order through a variety of contributions and series of unique and international case studies. Indeed, whilst considering crisis management as an "umbrella term" that covers a number of crises and ways of managing them, the reader will also explore the collection of "big data" by governmental crisis organisations. However, this volume also addresses the unintended consequences of using such data. In particular, through the lens of surveillance, one will also investigate how the use and abuse of big data can easily lead to monitoring and controlling the behaviour of people affected by crises. Thus, the reader will ultimately join the authors in their debate of how big data in crisis management needs to be examined as a political process involving questions of power and transparency.

An enlightening and highly topical volume, Big Data, Surveillance and Crisis Management will appeal to postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in fields including Sociology and Surveillance Studies, Disaster and Crisis Management, Media Studies, Governmentality, Organisation Theory and Information Society Studies.


"Big Data, Surveillance, and Crisis Management" represents an urgently needed and profoundly relevant contribution to the emerging body of scholarship about the role data and information technologies now play in how crises now unfold and how we respond to them. The voices in this volume are at the front lines of both practice and research in the multiple, interconnected fields that comprise the area of crisis informatics. We would do well to carefully and closely listen to what they are saying about how digital data is changing an already volatile world. Dr. Nathaniel Raymond, Director Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) of the Harvard T.I. Chan School of Public Health.

Kees Boersma and Chiara Fonio undertake a major challenge in their edited book, "Big Data, Surveillance, and Crisis Management", in addressing both the positive and negative aspects of integrating the increasing amounts of digital data available from diverse sources into crisis management. On the positive side, advanced technologies provide access to many more sources of information about an emerging event in near-real time. On the negative side, this same access may compromise rights of privacy and lead to hasty judgments from unverified sources. The authors address this challenge of credibility by examining both the design and use of algorithms to mine the range of data sources and the uses of these methods of analysis in actual crisis situations. This problem warrants serious consideration, and the editors and their co-authors in this thoughtful book present a timely assessment. Louise K. Comfort, Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director, Center for Disaster Management, University of Pittsburgh

This volume brings together two central concerns of our time — big data and crisis management — to provide us with crucial ways of thinking about our changing information environment. It provides a thoughtful and sophisticated exploration of both the potentials and pitfalls of data collection that will be of interest to a range of fields including data ethics, crisis management, and surveillance studies. The issues it explores are only likely to become more pressing with the passage of time, the development of the technology, and the direction in which the world seems to be headed. Mark Andrejevic, Professor of Media Studies Pomona College, Monash University.

This volume is essential reading for everybody engaged in the humanitarian sector. Building on the vast potential of new uses of information, social media and big data in humanitarian responses, the book systematically raises the pitfalls, dilemmas and ethical issues related to the use of big data in crisis response. Dorothea Hilhorst, professor of humanitarian aid and reconstruction at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Table of Contents

  1. Big Data, Surveillance and Crisis Management, by Kees Boersma and Chiara Fonio

    Part I Social media and crisis management

  3. The use of social media for crisis management: a privacy by design approach, by Muhammad Imran, Patrick Meier and Kees Boersma
  4. Mining social media for effective crisis response: machine learning and disaster response, by Rachel Finn, Hayley Watson and Kush Wadhwa
  5. Between the promise and reality of using social media in crisis management: lies, rumours and vigilantism, by Gemma Galdon Clavell
  6. Part II Big Data and health surveillance

  7. Biosecuring public health: the example of ESSENCE, by Henning Füller
  8. Triggering action: participatory surveillance and event detection in public health emergency management, by Martin French and Baki Cakici
  9. Part III Case studies on disasters, crisis and big data

  10. Resilience, surveillance and big data in crisis management: case studies from Europe, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, by Charles Leleux and C. William R. Webster
  11. Monitoring a big data cyclon: the Sardinian case, by Allesandro Burato
  12. Intersecting intelligence: exploring big data disruptions, by Xaroula Kerasidou, Katrina Petersen and Monika Büscher
  13. ‘Value-Veillance’: Opening the black box of surveillance in emergency management, by Karolin Eva Kappler and Uwe Vormbusch
  14. Times of crises and the development of the Police National Automatic Number Plate Recognition System in the UK, by Clive Norris and Xavier D L'Hoiry

About the Editors

Kees Boersma is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences of the VU University, Amsterdam

Chiara Fonio is currently working at the Joint Research Centre with a contract as CA (Contractual Agent)

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Surveillance

Surveillance is one of the fundamental sociotechnical processes underpinning the administration, governance and management of the modern world. It shapes how the world is experienced and enacted. The much-hyped growth in computing power and data analytics in public and private life, successive scandals concerning privacy breaches, national security and human rights have vastly increased its popularity as a research topic. The centrality of personal data collection to notions of equality, political participation and the emergence of surveillant authoritarian and post-authoritarian capitalisms, among other things, ensure that its popularity will endure within the scholarly community.

A collection of books focusing on surveillance studies, this series aims to help to overcome some of the disciplinary boundaries that surveillance scholars face by providing an informative and diverse range of books, with a variety of outputs that represent the breadth of discussions currently taking place.

Kirstie Ball is Professor in Management at St Andrews University, UK.

William Webster is Professor of Public Policy and Management at the University of Stirling, UK.

Charles Raab is a Professorial Fellow within the department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Pete Fussey is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at University of Essex, UK.

The series editors are directors of the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy (CRISP). CRISP is an interdisciplinary research centre whose work focuses on the political, legal, economic and social dimensions of the surveillance society.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General