J6.3 EAS Overhaul: Communicating the Message

Friday, 12 June 2015: 4:00 PM
304 (Raleigh Convention Center)
Matthew Cappucci, Harvard University, Plymouth, MA

Today, meteorologists wear several distinct hats, including that of a forecaster, graphic designer, teacher, and most importantly a communicator. Communication is the root of any successful meteorological enterprise, and broadcast meteorologists are known for their skill in this arena.

Unfortunately, during severe weather events not all of the people affected are within range of a television or have a wireless device with internet capability at their disposal. For this reason, the communication process during severe weather events is often left in the hands of Emergency Managers, who rely upon the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to communicate information regarding a specific hazard.

Nationwide, there are no uniform EAS practices, with common procedures ranging between activating Cold War-era sirens to issuing messages via reverse-911 systems. Oftentimes, specific and crucial details are “lost in translation” as information is siphoned through this complex system. Even when official NWS texts are made available to the public, misinterpretations and confusion abound, as the public may become overwhelmed by the sudden deluge of information. 

Instead, one must question whether or not if would be more effective if the EAS were reconfigured to better handle severe weather events through a system similar to the ‘livestreaming' options offered by several news media applications. Equally detrimental to the communication process are language barriers, which prevent critical information from reaching certain etholingüistic populations. 

This presentation will offer an alternative to this seemingly outdated and ineffective means of communication, and will outline an initiative and associated logistics necessary for this system to come to fruition.

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