Social and Behavioral Influences on Weather-Driven Decisions: Prototypes for Severe Weather

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Monday, 3 February 2014: 2:15 PM
Georgia Ballroom 2 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Burrell E. Montz, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, NC; and K. Galluppi, J. L. Losego, J. Correia Jr., and R. E. Riley

Decision-making to protect life and property under the stress of impending significant weather is complex, uncertain and often results in unpredictable outcomes. The ability to characterize risk and synthesize into emergency management (EM) processes is highly dependent on the knowledge of science experts successfully communicating with a dynamic community of emergency managers such that proper actions can be taken. It is an objective of the Weather Ready Nation to understand the human dynamics and not just the weather science, and a focus of this project is to integrate the social and physical sciences. Our team from Arizona State University, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Oklahoma has been exploring the major influences on EM decisions in complex social networks. This project is organized around the National Research Council's Risk Paradigm that connects hazards to personal and institutional risk. Through interviews, focus groups, and surveys, the team has identified numerous influences that can manifest themselves as a disruption of the risk connections. Further, we defined a scale of relative importance and priority for assessment of the influences we identified on decisions.

Following severe weather events in the Spring of 2013, we undertook additional interviews, this time with members of the emergency management community in affected areas to identify what were the most critical influences on their weather related decisions. Specific outcomes from those interviews have allowed us to further characterize the influences, when they occur, who or what causes them, and how they manifest themselves within the risk paradigm. Building on the results of the various iterations that have taken place throughout this project, we are developing prototypes to demonstrate what changes to products and services can be made to minimize negative influences on decisions. Emphasis is on a prototype messaging framework that provides for coordination, consistency, and clarity and that permits the addition of area specific instructions, using multiple delivery modes including social media. This paper will discuss project progress to date, including the major influences on risk management of the EM community during a significant weather event and the effectiveness of the prototype in addressing those influences.