8.5 Investigating Crisis Decision-Making and Communication in Weather-Related Risks: A Role-Playing Game for Forecasters, Emergency Managers, and the General Public

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 11:30 AM
Ballroom F (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Galateia Terti, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France; and I. Ruin, M. Kalas, V. Lorini, T. Sabbatini, and A. C. i Alonso

Over the last three decades, we have observed significant weather and climate events around the world. Especially, Europe has already seen a 60% increase in extreme weather events. Given that climate and weather-related hazards (e.g., severe wildfires, river floods and windstorms) cause increasing disruption, damages and human losses in European cities, the European Environment Agency (EEA) calls for more comprehensive information systems towards integrated risk disaster management across Europe. “EnhANcing emergency management and response to extreme WeatHER and climate Events” (ANYWHERE) project is an innovating action that aims at developing and implementing a European decision-support platform integrating cutting-edge forecasting technology. Especially, the project elaborates existing forecasting and nowcasting algorithms as well as impact assessment routines to propose new informational products. The initiative is built in a collaborative manner where researchers, developers, potential users and other stakeholders meet frequently to define needs, capabilities and challenges. Our final target is to provide civil protection authorities and regional institutions across Europe with a supportive tool to better anticipate and respond to extreme and high-impact weather and climate events.

This study describes a role-playing game specifically designed to explore i) uncertainties and dilemmas embedded in the real-time forecasting-warning processes and ii) the communication strategies that take place in case of emergency. The ultimate goal is to test the value of ANYWHERE product with respect to its ability to support forecasters and emergency managers’ decision making in weather-related crisis situations. In addition, the proposed game serves as an interactive communication tool among the players. The literature suggests gaming simulations as a promising learning and communication approach for complex problem solving and behavioral decision-making. Here, the simulations seek to enhance participant’s understanding of the complexities and challenges embedded in various levels of the decision-making process under the threat of weather disasters (e.g., forecasting/warnings, official emergency actions, self-protection). Also, we facilitate collaboration and coordination between the participants who belong to different national or local agencies/authorities across Europe and its implementation during the ANYWHERE workshop in Helsinki.

The first implementation of the game simulates the case of flood and flash flood hazards to obtain conclusions on “if “and “how” an improved multi-model output, including information on i) impact assessments and maps and ii) live data on exposure and vulnerability derived from the social media and crowdsourcing, can support the decision chain in European warning systems. Flooding is selected as a prototype case since it is a common hazard under consideration in the four pilot sites of ANYWHERE (i.e., Canton of Bern in Switzerland, Catalonia in Spain, South Savo in Finland, Genoa in Italy). The roles to be played and the potential decisions/actions are pre-defined based on qualitative evidence gathered during the pilot site workshops that took place in March and April 2017 and in previous research. Especially, we consider the following warning-system decision chain that includes 3 levels of decision (i.e., 3 groups of roles for players to be represented in the game): i) Level 1: Weather Forecasters, ii) Level 2: Emergency managers/Authorities in charge of civil protection, and iii) Level 3: General Public and targeted users (private companies).

During the simulation the players are provided with a virtual case study. The scenario includes rainfall forecasts that are updated as the simulation evolves providing new input to the players as well as contextual information. Depending on their role (e.g., forecasters, emergency managers, parents, school directors) the players are assigned a series of constrains and targets and they are asked to choose their action based on a given list of options. Each player has two different issues to address during the simulation. The first is to select what warning or emergency decisions to take according to the available information and related uncertainties and the second deals with the communication of those decisions with the target of enhancing self-protective actions. The forecasters (Level 1 group) need to interpret the hazard model outputs to choose the level of warning to be issued and communicated to the emergency managers (Level 2) and the general public (Level 3). Then, emergency managers evaluate the situation and decide what to do based on the forecasters inputs and their own assessment of the level of exposure, potentially supported by crowd sourcing information. The members of the public may decide for their own actions based on their constraints by considering or ignoring the decisions of Level 1 and Level 2.

The game is first applied and tested in ANYWHERE’s workshop in Helsinki (September, 2017). About 30-50 people including researchers, forecasters, civil protection and representatives of related companies are anticipated to play the simulation and exchange knowledge, thoughts and insights in the debriefing and discussion phase after the game. Feedbacks as well as potentialities for future expansions of this implementation will be exposed and discussed in this presentation.

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