TSUNAMI MESSAGING PROJECT
Consistent with the National Tsunami Education and Outreach Plan, and following recommendations from various official studies and under the direction of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, staff at NWS Headquarters Tsunami Program conducted a long-term process of reviewing “tsunami messaging” that we all work with, hear, share, and discuss with various public audiences. (Note: these are not messages that are issued as a part of tsunami information statements, watches, advisories, or warnings.)
To facilitate arriving at a consensus on messages related to tsunamis, a series webinars were held to bring together stakeholders to share their thoughts, expertise, and ideas. Many stakeholders participated, including NTHMP partners, local emergency managers, voluntary agency representatives, educators, and others with a specific interest in tsunamis and related hazards. Methods used to communicate technical information with public audiences also were discussed.
The messages related to tsunamis are organized by the following categories. Each category that appears in green type is a link to its own page. (A category in red type means that the page is yet to be created and populated on this wiki.)
To participate on any webinar, please click on the “registration link” in advance of the scheduled webinar and register for it. You will receive more information via email when you register. Note: Pre-registration is required.
|Tsunami Message Category||Webinar Date||Registration Link|
|NEW-1.||Project Re-launch (Relaunch Plan)||Sept. 20 2016||Meeting held|
|NEW-2.||Next Discussion||Oct. 24 2016||Register|
|PAST-1.||Definition of Tsunami (Raw Data) – (Consensus Output)||Feb. 2012||Done 2012|
|PAST-2.||Causes of tsunami (Raw Data) – (Consensus Output)||March 2012||Done 2012|
|PAST-3.||Project Re-launch and Review||12/05/13||Webinar held|
|PAST-4.||Re-discussion Tsunami Definition and Causes||12/19/2013||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-5.||Tsunami and earth science and facts pertinent to non-experts||01/09/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-6.||Tsunami terminology for non-experts||02/06/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-7.||Tsunami dangers--Part 1 near beach, rivers||02/20/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-8.||Tsunami dangers--Part 2--inundation||03/06/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-9.||Tsunami dangers--Part 3--currents, marinas, ports||03/20/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-10.||Tsunami dangers--Part 4--What to do if there is no higher ground||04/03/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-11.||Messaging Project Summary To Date||04/17/2014||Summary|
|PAST-12.||Tsunami warning signs (environmental clues) - local tsunami events||05/01/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-13.||Tsunami safety -- Part 1--during alerts||05/15/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-14.||Earthquake Shaking--Nature's Clue at the beach||05/29/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-15.||No meeting today||06/05/2014||No meeting|
|PAST-16.||Tsunami safety--Part 2--evacuation, using signage||06/19/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-17.||Tsunamis & their currents--Marine/Boating community - harbors, fishing fleets, boat owners, maritime service providers||Included in 3/20/14||Meeting Notes|
|X||Technical failure/internet down/Webinar could not be held||07/10/2014||Meeting deferred to 7/24|
|PAST-18.||Tsunami safety, cont.- where safe zones are/avoiding overevacuation||07/24/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-19.||Tsunamis: what it will be like (case stories)||08/07/2014||Meeting canceled/deferred to later date TBA|
|PAST-20.||Message Project Summary To Date||08/21/2014||Meeting Notes|
|PAST-21.||Dangerous actions and how to communicate those dangers||TBA||TBA|
|PAST-22.||List of available and reviewed additional information||TBA||TBA|
We all have messages about tsunamis and related hazards that we use for various audiences – public (local, visitors, business owner/operators, etc.), emergency managers, responders, elected officials, media, and so forth. Most people believe, “if it sounds right, and it's from an official or trusted source, then it is right.” Seldom are results of new scientific findings, social science research, or validation of facts incorporated into folklore. Eventually what happens is that while most messages remain correct, the accuracy of certain messages slide into a point of being “mostly right with acceptable error.”
Many of these messages appear in printed publications, on websites, and are provided in presentations and further distributed by word-of-mouth, media reporting, and what noted social scientist Dr. Dennis Mileti calls, “milling.” The point is, we're all using slightly different messaging about the same issues. That may be okay for some applications and may not be for others.
The Tsunami Messaging Project considers these issues. Over a series of webinars (see list above), we explored various messages that have been captured and cataloged. Through participation with stakeholders and users of the messages, we reviewed “what's out there” and tried to come to consensus agreement on messaging content. Where possible, we provided a scientific and/or research citation that supports each message.
Conveyors and communicators of messages are more likely to use messages that explain why a message says what it says (that is, the research/science support) and is clear, concise, and reasonable. However, we also realize that for some areas, messages need to be adapted for circumstances – for example, for use in island areas, coastlines with many out-of-area visitors, and so forth.
The purpose of the Tsunami Messaging Project is to list messages derived from reliable, frequently-used sites considered to be truthful and trustworthy. Stakeholders will review the messages and determine possible outcomes:
1. Concurrence on one message about a topic
2. Acceptance of the “most best” message even if there may be some exceptions
3. Determination if a certain subset of messages are applicable in some geographic areas and not others (for example, island vs. continental shorelines.)
4. Deferral until more research is found to justify a message's content.
Further, each message must have a scientific or factual basis. Consider, “how do we know this message is accurate and true?” The citation of factual substantiation must be identified and provided for each major message.
Recognizing that every community is different, with a different risk of the tsunami hazard, governing procedures and regulations, experience, and many other issues, this project will NOT be proscribing a “one-size fits all” set of messages related to the tsunami hazard.
Instead, the expected output from this project will be an organized list of several messages related to a topic area along with explanations about the choice of wording for same (i.e., the science behind the message.) Because the messages are expressly provided to be in the public domain, anyone from anywhere may choose to adopt any messages that he/she may find useful as outreach materials are updated or created.
Readers of the finalized, vetted list of messages may be informed and choose to change some content that they have already produced based on learning something new or that some science has informed us to dispel long-held folklore. This process works most effectively when we “let it go.”
Mix-and-match, pick-and-choose, combine, recraft, apply, and adapt – all anticipated actions from the stakeholder communicators who may visit the final messages site on a NOAA/NWS web page.
More background: Social science about human reactions to tsunami signs and warnings