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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

Background information

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.

Expected Outputs

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

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messagehome.txt · Last modified: 2016/09/21 09:52 by rocky