Cell Phone Use with Social Ties During Crises Chapter uri icon


  • Many proposed technological solutions to emergency response during disasters involve the use of cellular telephone technology. However, cell phone networks quickly become saturated during and/or immediately after a disaster and remain saturated for critical periods. This study investigated cell phone use by Virginia Tech students, faculty and staff during the shootings on April 16, 2007 to identify patterns of communication with social network ties. An online survey was administered to a random sample pool to capture communications behavior with social ties during the day of these tragic events. The results show that cell phones were the most heavily used communication technology by a majority of respondents (both voice and text messaging). While text messaging makes more efficient use of bandwidth than voice, most communication on 4/16 was with parents, since the majority of the sample is students, who are less likely to use text messaging. These findings should help in understanding how cell phone technologies may be utilized or modified for emergency situations in similar communities.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kavanaugh, A., Sheetz, S. D., Quek, F., & Kim, B. J.

complete list of authors

  • Kavanaugh, Andrea||Sheetz, Steven D||Quek, Francis||Kim, B Joon

Book Title

  • Using Social and Information Technologies for Disaster and Crisis Management

publication date

  • January 2013