Alerts and Warnings on Short Messaging Channels: Guidance from an Expert Panel Process.
Jeannette Sutton, Erica D. Kuligowski
Information is of utmost importance to the public during disasters, especially for those under imminent threat. Without information, and more specifically, without the right information, people are often left to fill in the gaps of what is going on and how to protect themselves. New and evolving technologies have changed the way agencies and organizations can communicate with the public during disasters. Alert and warning messages can now be rapidly pushed out to populations under imminent threat via a variety of new platforms; including mobile and wireless devices, and social media. However, these systems were originally designed to meet technological requirements, leaving human information needs in imminent threat contexts largely overlooked. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance, based on the empirical research record, to public officials on the most effective ways to communicate with populations under imminent threat over short messaging channels. Examples of message templates that conform to research findings for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Twitter messages are provided. This guidance is grounded in the latest research on how improved short messages can increase the likelihood that people under imminent threat will take protective action.