12.3 Emergency warning system: Factors influencing citizen decision-making

Wednesday, 7 November 2012: 4:45 PM
Symphony I and II (Loews Vanderbilt Hotel)
Stephen Guillot Jr., Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; and J. Kenkre and P. Jarvis

An essential element for effective planning for citizen preparedness requires addressing the need for an emergency warning system. This research investigated factors affecting diverse populations and its level of preparedness currently in place when responding to the emergency warning system for tornadoes. Two main areas of concentration of my research was to investigate behavior patterns of the target population and individuals making up that population, and the relevant scientific data related to tornado characteristics and associated tornado warning systems. The primary focus consisted of the identification, selection and assessment of the multiple devices currently in place to determine the most appropriate system to ensure optimal operational efficiency. I reviewed the components associated with early warning systems such as: risk knowledge; local vulnerability; appropriate protection actions, and human response behavior.

My hypothesis states that “there is a relationship between individual knowledge / experience and the level of personal preparedness within the state of Tennessee.” My research questions focus on: 1.What is the knowledge/experience levels of given populations about the tornado warning system?; 2.What is the level of preparedness within given populations?; 3.What is the perceived risk within given populations?; and 4. How effective is the existing emergency alert/notification communication strategy?

The researcher found that there is a need for continual community education related to severe weather events. There is also a need for standardization of: initial disaster messages, disaster symbols and colors used on television. The researcher also found that geo-targeting messages improved the response to the messages.

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