32nd Conference on Broadcast Meteorology/31st Conference on Radar Meteorology/Fifth Conference on Coastal Atmospheric and Oceanic Prediction and Processes

Sunday, 10 August 2003: 2:30 PM
The Decline of the American Emergency Communications System
Bryan Norcross, The Weather Channel, Atlanta , GA
Thirty years ago Americans got their emergency information from one of a handful of television and/or radio outlets. The government had limited information to dispense, but essentially all of it was broadcast to the public. In the modern era, there are dozens of outlets for information on television, radio, and the internet, and the government is producing more data about the emergency than it can distribute. The result is that the information that is dispensed by one outlet is usually different, and sometimes conflicting with the information on another outlet. The result is that it is much more difficult for a member of the public to feel confident that he/she has the real or best information. The confusion and uncertainty intrinsic in the current system is extremely dangerous in that it makes it difficult or impossible for the government to efficiently distribute a complete package of emergency information to the public. This communications failure has been noted in hurricane events over the past several years.

This paper will discuss this communications disconnect and the reduced efficiency of the American emergency communication system.

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