Short Messaging in Complex Emergencies: A Rapid Guide

The Communication and Complex Emergencies Project is a multi-phase collaboration between the University of Adelaide’s Applied Communication Collaborative Research Unit and the Australian Civil-Military Centre. The current phase of the project focuses on a range of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digital platforms and their role in supporting emergency and humanitarian relief and assistance processes during complex emergencies.

This guidance paper examines the use of mobile phone enabled messaging services and messaging applications such as SMS (short message service), WhatsApp, Facebook’s Messenger and WeChat during complex emergencies. SMS and app-based messaging are very widely used and access to mobile phones has reached saturation levels in many parts of the world. This makes the use of short messaging a very direct and important mechanism for communicating with ‘at risk’ populations before, during and after emergencies.

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