Risk in a digital age: Understanding risk in virtual networks through digital response networks (DRNs)

Jennie Phillips

International Development Planning Review, 40 (3) 2018, doi.org/10.3828/idpr.2018.18


In a crisis situation, as citizens search online for support, many also move online to respond through digital response networks (DRNs). DRNs are citizen-driven networks that form and/or activate online during crisis to assist those affected, support those mandated to respond, and relay the needs of those affected. Whether humanitarian or advocacy related, they are invaluable to citizens and responders alike. There are associated risks, however, with what DRNs seek to achieve, how they operate and where. Enabling these networks requires risk treatment and resilience development, yet existing research fails to capture a holistic risk profile to base these treatments. Extending Phillips (2015), this study builds risk understanding by exploring inherent risk and resilience in DRNs. Data collected from DRN case studies is combined with elements of the Networked Operational Resilience (NOR) framework (Phillips and Hay, 2017). Discussion describes the DRN context, inherent risk and resilience landscape within the structural and dynamic dimensions of networks. Risk treatment and resilience development strategies and areas for further research are provided.

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