The Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany (CTG UAlbany) is collaborating with the Emergency and Risk Communication Message Testing (ERC) Laboratory, at UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity on a four-year research project funded by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. This research is focused on developing the Message Design Dashboard (MDD) software application to help emergency managers write effective messages for public alert and warnings. The UAlbany research team also will develop presentations, training materials, and workshops to educate alerting authorities on developing effective public alerts and warning messages. At the conclusion of the MDD design, project team members will conduct training seminars/workshops at events and conferences as directed by FEMA.
Hazardous events, ranging from toxic materials leaks to mass casualty incidents, and seasonal weather events compounded by changing climate conditions and crumbling infrastructure, pose a significant risk of harm to populations around the globe. Communication of warnings, potential impacts, and the protective actions that can be taken to reduce injuries or prevent loss of life is vital at the onset of potential disaster. Governments at all levels have recognized the need to communicate to their constituents, resulting in a nationwide policy: the Warning, Alert, and Response Networks Act which led to the development of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System and the coordination of participating wireless carriers to deliver alerts and warnings to mobile devices to those at risk. This nationwide approach means that regardless of location, alerts and warnings can be delivered to those at risk. Technological advances such as WEA have emphasized and prioritized capabilities to broadcast geo-targeted emergency alerts to populations throughout the United States. Research on human perceptions, behavioral intent, and protective actions taken in response to these mobile-delivered messages is limited.