Preparedness phase (phase 1)

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Characteristics of the preparedness phase


  • Preparedness is an on-going planning process for which an all-hazards approach is recommended. The measures needed are drawn up in preparedness plans.
  • The goal is to contribute to building public hazard and risk awareness.
  • Vulnerability analysis is needed to identify target populations and special groups within them.
  • The role of communication in this phase is to support preparedness measures, e.g. inform and educate people about risks and how these might be prevented, build collaboration, and monitor whether people feel anxiety over certain issues.

Public perception and motivation

  • The interest of the public varies over time and by hazard. Even people living in a hazard zone may not appreciate the importance of preparedness.
  • There are natural actors within the third sector. Identification of these and coordinating and networking with them will greatly facilitate joint preparedness.
  • The various public groups need to be identified according to how they seek and receive information about risks.

Recommendations supporting empowerment in the preparedness phase

  • Interest may be low for preparedness activities, as the threat is often is less visible at this stage or has no immediate effect on day-to-day life. Therefore, in this phase connecting with existing groups, such as schools, churches and non-governmental organisations, is recommended.
  • Authorities can map local groups of volunteers and special interest associations with the aim of inviting them to participate in crisis communication planning and joint drills. Often, only a few of the existing groups are included in authority crisis plans. Some groups focus on volunteering for crisis situations, while others have side activities that benefit citizen preparedness. By mapping the available resources, a more complete picture can be gained, including private sector organisations as an additional resource.
  • Educational activities can be undertaken together with local or other partners. If campaigns are used, they should not just offer one-way information, but, to be more effective, connect with concrete initiatives by citizen groups.
  • Preparedness information to the public should be widely available and easy to find.
  • Social media accounts and followers need to be in place and promoted, e.g. by offering preparedness information. Preparedness information can be used to create connections with citizens, for example, when people become followers of a response organisation’s Twitter account or subscribe to receive future information.
  • As high probability crises excite most interest among citizens, an all-hazards approach can be used that includes information related to various types of crises. This generalized approach also prevents too much emphasis on violence and terrorism, which should be avoided for ethical reasons.
  • Risk perception and media use habits can be investigated.
  • At this stage, the communications infrastructure is functioning normally, but its capacity for increased traffic should be checked, e.g. for adding crisis websites and call centres.
  • Personnel and spokespeople can be trained.

Technology aspects and how it supports the preparedness phase

Technology aspects

  • The technology is functioning and multiple channels of communication are available.
  • For the public to become familiar with the functioning of technological solutions designed for use during actual emergencies, they need to try them out already during the preparedness phase. This may require incentives.

How technology could support public resilience

  • Technology offers platforms for a community approach and more personalized communication.
  • Smart phone applications and games may help to prepare and advise people on how to act in an emergency.
  • Technology can help in finding already existing active groups and / or communities that can be added to communication networks. Inviting fans and followers in social media promotes an organisation’s visibility in social media: the reach of the message is increased when shared, liked or commented on.

Examples of best practices