As social media platforms have become vital means of communications, it has become imperative for emergency managers and policy makers to understand how people are interacting with different agencies on these platforms for enhancing community response coordination during disasters. Although many public agencies have already adopted social media platforms for crisis communication purposes, empirical evidence on whether and how these agencies are effectively engaged on these platforms is lacking. This research aims to examine crisis communication activities of a variety of agencies on Twitter in response to Hurricane Irma in 2017. In this study, we analyzed 13,353 hurricane-related tweets posted by the local agencies from eight counties in East Central Florida as well as federal, state, and other levels of organizations during the hurricane response period. An engagement metric was applied on these tweets to determine which agencies were most active in disseminating information during Hurricane Irma. The results revealed the most engaged local agencies in Twitter during Hurricane Irma for crisis communications and the Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) associated with them in coordinating disaster response activities. We further investigated Twitter profiles and relevant attributes of these actively engaged agencies, and the contents of the hurricane-related tweets during Hurricane Irma. The study found that local agencies remain active and engaged in Twitter during a disaster compared to other levels of agencies. The ESF representing communication (ESF #2) was one of the most frequent ESFs associated with these active agencies. The results also provided insights on crisis communication performance of these agencies in terms of the three dimensions of social media engagement including popularity, commitment, and virality, which are correlated to the counts of like, reply, and retweet of each post, respectively. The study includes recommendations to local government and partner organizations and emergency managers to improve crisis communication in social media and suggests future research directions.


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Graduation Date





Hasan, Samiul


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering; Smart Cities Track


CFE0009865; DP0028122





Release Date

November 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)