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>  News Releases >   2005 >   October

Study cites Dartmouth as a model for online information sharing afer Hurricane Katrina

Posted 10/07/05 • Contact Joel Aalberts (603) 646-3661

Dartmouth's online response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster earned high marks in an independent report by Ballardvale Research, an Andover, Mass., information technology analyst firm. In a report titled "Best Practices: Online Crisis Management: 30 Top Colleges/Universities Respond to Katrina," Ballardvale founder Guy Creese, a specialist in Web analytics, cited Dartmouth as an organization that excelled at using its Web resources to communicate an institutional response to the crisis.

"A college's constituency is very broad due primarily to the geographic diversity of its current students and alumni, as well as the wide reach of professional faculty relationships," said Creese. Following Katrina, "Dartmouth did a good job of making information available, providing clear places to go for different types of visitors and implementing information exchange via blogs and message boards."

He wrote in his report that Dartmouth's Katrina blog - built by Alumni Relations and Public Affairs staff members using Google's free blogger service - "let the different Dartmouth communities share information with hardly any Dartmouth IT involvement."

How an institution responds to a crisis, Creese suggests, is a strong indicator of the strength of their organizational system. "Web pages often operate with a predefined framework," he said. "A crisis throws that structure up in the air makes people adapt when the rules and regulations they always follow don't quite fit any longer. It's important to think in advance about what you would do in a crisis so that when one comes, your Web site can support your efforts in aiding victims and informing your constituents."

Creese first studied Web response to crisis beginning with the media's response to 9/11. With Katrina, he initially intended to monitor corporate response to the disaster, but found that corporations "took a binary view, either adding an icon suggesting people make donations to the Red Cross to their homepage, or by doing nothing at all. "Colleges and universities," he said, "made a much more compelling cross section in this case."

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