Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 4:00 PM
Technology’s Influence on Public Awareness, Communication, and Education about Hurricanes
Room 235/236 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Technology is a mixed bag. There is no doubt that increasing computer power and an improved understanding of the atmosphere have led to progressively better track forecasts. But, the same technology has created a multi-message fog, so the clarity of our emergency communications has decreased in a significant way. This talk will examine the ways that technology is diminishing the ability of public officials to communicate with the people that most need their information, while at the same time allowing governments to more accurately understand the risks of a disaster and to properly react. At the same time, ubiquitous communications has diminished the public's perceived need to prepare for unknown future events. The convergence of these realities, the dramatic increase in the number of people at risk, and other factor which will be examined adds up to an extreme threat to public health and welfare, especially in large coastal cities. Technology dependence is like a drug; a pill that has altered the landscape of public awareness and response. Emergency planners and residents alike have become so dependent on high technology that common-sense, low-tech plans are decreasingly part of the plan. For all of the benefits that today's technology can provide, and they are many, there is also a dark side which diminishes the government's ability to deal with large-scale emergencies.