Key enablers of public empowerent
The following factors help realize public empowerment for crisis management:
- 1 Inviting people to participate through concrete actions
- 2 Inviting people to participate in communication and sharing the results
- 3 Including public communication initiatives in authority communication
- 4 Accessibility and inclusiveness of authority communication
- 5 Making information widely available and easy to find
Inviting people to participate through concrete actions
In various example initiatives, people were asked by authorities, through various communication strategies, to actively participate in crisis management. Such initiatives have proven successful in enhancing preparedness for crisis response (in much the same way as police requests for public assistance when searching for missing children, and collecting DNA material in cold case murder investigations).
Inviting people to participate in communication and sharing the results
Many people are willing to help if asked, for example to take and upload pictures or videos of the damage in their locality. The sharing of information obtained from citizens with the wider public can have beneficial effects. For example, authority websites where pictures, videos and reports supplied by involved citizens or journalists are published are likely to be trusted by those seeking information.
Public initiatives to share information can be facilitated by mentioning them in authority communication channels. Examples include the inclusion of a Twitter hashtag in a government Twitter account, or a including a link on the authority website to certain public websites, Twitter or Facebook accounts.
Information should be accessible to all by its dissemination through a variety of media and opting for an inclusive approach that taking the diversity of the different members of the public into account, e.g. people with visual impairments, and with different languages and cultural backgrounds. The setting of thresholds in order to obtain information should be avoided.
Making information widely available and easy to find
To facilitate empowerment, information should be widely available to enable advance understanding of a threat, rather than waiting until an incident has occurred. It should be available at any and all times for those seeking it. Information should also be easy to find. Important sources should be known to the public, and show high on search engines. If people need to wonder about which authority website the information can be found on, time will be lost and people may have to rely on other sources.
While at the political level awareness of the lack of attention accorded to community resilience seems high, l, concrete examples, and possibly also regulations, needed for its implementation in real life have not been forthcoming. The fact that all too often public input, ideas and suggestions are not really welcomed by authorities is a shortcoming that should be remedied.