Parameters of a Successful Emergency Alerting System

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 2:15 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Bryan Norcross, The Weather Channel, Atlanta, GA

Surveys of coastal residents taken during Hurricane Sandy showed that people were aware that a threatening storm was coming, but mainly because there was a lot of coverage in the media. Most people thought a hurricane watch or warning was in effect. In a common-language sense, they were being warned. It was not the NWS-issued weather alerts that informed their sense of risk, but instead the general commotion about the storm.

In Japan, 20,000 people died in the great earthquake and tsunami in 2011 in spite of sufficient advance warning. Interviews after the fact found that the people who stayed were aware there was a threat, but were not motivated by the form, format, and style of the alerts. The communications format has been modified in response.

What can we learn from these and other mega disasters about alerting and motivating residents in the threat zone? This talk proposes benchmarks and parameters against which a comprehensive emergency-alerting system can be judged.