The Web and Crisis Communication

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Michael Dame from Virginia Tech

It turns out that today is the 6-month anniversary of the tragedy where 32 were lost and dozens of others were injured.

The presentation was one of the most inspiring talks that I have ever been to. Michael is a great speakers and did simply amazing work during the aftermath of the crisis. It would have been worth coming to Rochester, just to hear this.

During the day of the shooting, they had an incredible rise in the amount of traffic due to the media frenzy. Luckily, they had a lightweight version of the homepage ready. Without it, and the help from IT adding extra servers, the entire site would have gone down. By the end of the day they would need 3-servers just to keep the homepage up. By the end of the day, over 430GB of data would be requested (around 15GB is average for the entire site). Would our infrastructure hold?

On top of all this, his team did great work to make sure the information they posted was clear, accurate and compassionate.

  • By 2pm the next day they launched a new page that addressed the crisis.
  • Multimedia was important for those that could not be there for press events, candlelight vigils and memorials.
  • The students and families needs were always put first in all decisions.
  • All words were chosen very carefully.

On a completely different note:

Next years conference will be at Missouri State, where Piper, er.. Chad and the rest of his great team work. It will be moved up to October 5th-8th. Hope to see you there.

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