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Publication Citation: Communicating the Emergency: Preliminary findings on the elements of an effective public warning message

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Author(s): Erica D. Kuligowski;
Title: Communicating the Emergency: Preliminary findings on the elements of an effective public warning message
Published: February 28, 2011
Abstract: When an emergency occurs, it is not always sufficient to simply initiate alarm bells. Individuals may not know what the alarm bell means and, in turn, may respond inappropriately to its sound. Many buildings have installed mass notification or emergency communication systems allowing for the dissemination of information in the event of an emergency. However, there is a lack of guidance on how to effectively use current emergency communication systems. Especially with the development of newer technologies, such as mobile devices or social networking tools, guidance on message content and dissemination is crucial to ensure effective and safe response of building occupants during an emergency. This paper presents preliminary research findings from an ongoing project aimed at identifying appropriate emergency message content and dissemination techniques for various types of emergencies in buildings and building campuses in the United States. The paper ends with a discussion of the cultural differences that may complicate these U.S.-based findings, hopefully prompting emergency managers in others countries to begin to identify the vulnerabilities within their communities and ways to improve public response in emergencies through effective emergency communication.
Citation: NIST TN - 1689
Keywords: evacuation, emergency messages, mass notification
Research Areas: Building and Fire Research
PDF version: PDF Document Click here to retrieve PDF version of paper (103KB)