Project Structure

DIGICOM is structured around 4 workpackages:
Workpackage 1: Risk Communication Environment
Workpackage 2: Risk Communication Events
Workpackage 3: Policy Formulation
Workpackage 4: Communication of Results

Workpackage 1: Risk Communication Environment
Led by Mareile Kaufmann

The DIGICOM project aims to map and understand the actors, actions and impacts at the heart of the digitalisation of risk communication, as well as to develop a concrete methodology of communication analysis in the Norwegian and international risk landscape. In order to do so it studies the digitalisation of risk communication in three main environments in which risk communication is particularly intense during crises:

1. Internal and external risk communication among responsible public authorities (e.g. relevant national ministries, national emergency preparedness agencies, European directorates and centres concerned with crisis management, experts and relevant NGOs)

2. Risk communication through social media (e.g. the use of Twitter, Facebook, and dedicated platforms for crowd-sourcing.)

3. Risk communication through mainstream news media (e.g. the coverage of disasters in the national and international media.)

WP1 will pave the way for the overall research. It will first define key concepts relevant to the research objects (e.g. risk, communication, media, resilience, etc.) and review the main methodologies and methodological tools to be used. It will then identify relevant research data in each environment (focusing on Norway, Italy, Iceland, Estonia, the US, and the EU) through exploratory interviews and desk-research and consolidate the sources and construction of a research archive by means of follow-up interviews, participant observation, and desk research. Finally, it will analyse the three risk communication environments and the main trajectories of digitalisation, resilience, and risk communication. It will do so by studying material collected (ranging from written documents to videos, from statistics to audios) through qualitative and quantitative discourse analysis, legal analysis and actor and concept mapping exercises. It will provide for a critical analysis of the evolution of key concepts and related practices of digitalisation, resilience and risk communication.

Both the research material collected and the research outputs (analysis of the risk communication environments and of the main trajectories of digitalisation, resilience, and risk communication) will be fed into WPs 2, 3 and 4.

Workpackage 2: Risk Communication Events
Led by J. Peter Burgess

In close communication with WP1, WP2 will analyse a series of risk communication events. These events will serve as entry points to investigate how risk communication unfolds and changes in the different environments clarified in WP1. Insights from these events will help generating best practices and strategic recommendations for future risk communication in Norway and abroad. The three categories of events DIGICOM will pay special attention to are:

1. Natural disasters: (a) the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009, (b) the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, and (c) the Vesleofsen flood in 1995.

2. Terrorist attacks: (a) in Oslo and Utøya in 2011 and (b) in Boston in 2013, 

3. Cyber attacks: (a) in Estonia in 2007 and (b) on major newspapers in the U.S. in 2012-13.

The particular events are selected according to four main criteria: (1) they have general relevance for risk preparedness in Norway and internationally, (2) they produced significant risk communication across sectors and borders, (3) they introduced new and un-researched forms of risk communication, and (4) they hold the potential to generate insights for future risk preparedness policy in Norway. The three categories of events complement the central focus on issues of health, environment and industrial disasters in past research on risk communication.

The research team will produce in-depth studies for selected risk events, following a common analytical technique. After ensuring adequate material for each case (identification of 'local' actors and informants; collection of specific streams of data), the team will create a grid of analysis to be used for each case (to facilitate the following exercise of comparison). The collected material is then studied based on qualitative and quantitative discourse analysis, legal analysis and actors' and concepts' mapping exercise. Finally, a comparative analysis of the national cases across each set of events (natural disasters, terrorist attacks, cyber attacks) will provide the basis for the policy formulation in WP3. The various language abilities of the consortium allow for conducting most event studies in the respective national language.

Workpackage 3: Policy Formulation
Led by Rocco Bellanova

WP3 will address existing gaps in the analysis of the role and impact of new media on risk communication policies in Norway. It will hold continuous contact with Norwegian and European stakeholders in risk management and communication through an active End User Forum. A series of policy briefs will be published responding to the specific information and analysis needs of the policy community. Building on the research outputs of WPs 1 and 2, these policy briefs will focus on risk communication policies and practices in Norway as well as in the EU, with special attention to the impact of new media and to the lessons learned from specific risk communication events at national and international level. In addition to four policy-oriented seminars called “Breakfast Briefings”, which convey the project’s key findings in a policy-oriented way, WP3 will result in the drafting of a roadmap for Norway that relates types of risks/events to the different environments. Through both, the End User Forum and a specific Breakfast Briefing, this roadmap will be discussed with relevant Norwegian stakeholders (authorities, media, ITC companies, NGOs).

Workpackage 4: Communication of Results
Led by Maria Jumbert Gabrielsen

Communicating results is a central concern of the project. Besides the project-internal communication of research findings and the on-going communication with the End User Forum, results are being communicated to the general public as well as to specific audiences. The findings from the project will be communicated to the project’s main target groups: crisis managers, policy makers, media and academia. As indicated in the online application form the DIGICOM dissemination package includes a broad variety of channels, varying from 9 peer-reviewed open-access academic article (the fee for open access is reflected in the budget) to 6 policy briefs, breakfast briefings for end-users, academic seminars, a policy roadmap “Risk communication in a digital age”, a final conference for the presentation of results as well as a project website and an on-going media strategy. An additional aspect of dissemination lies in the methodology of the project as such, which foresees an intensive communication and information exchange with end users.