Evacuation as a communication and social phenomenon

Goudie, Douglas (2009) Evacuation as a communication and social phenomenon. In: Meyers, R.A., (ed.) Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science. Springer, New York, USA, pp. 1-63.

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Disaster management in Australia, and increasingly, globally, is focused on mitigation as part of a ‘threat continuum’, from acceptance that some locations are vulnerable to a hazard impact, through to recovery [13]. Emergency warnings and a possible need to evacuate are embedded as ‘spikes’ on that continuum. Thus, this article stresses the importance of developing ways; incentives, to mobilize aware at-risk community members to precautionary self-evacuation. For this to happen, people need to know and internalise the reality that they are in a hazard zone.

This article demonstrates that acknowledgement of hazard zones, developing community acceptance of threat and needed action needs to be at the individual, household and community levels. Evacuation modelling is needed only for those whose homes may be at real threat of a disaster impact. For those living in a hazard zone, a fully informed community, who have internalised the reality of the threat and have worked for maximum background preparation, and have mechanisms to receive alerts and warnings of a looming threat; a community predisposed to precautionary evacuations will result.

Capturing this complexity is the challenge for modellers. Evacuation is about hazard zone residents actively monitoring a looming threat via refined communication channels detailed in this article, within a developed social predisposition to act. Some examples are given. For consideration by scientists and students internationally, this article introduces the Communication Safety Triangle and the Seven Steps to Community Safety on the Preparedness Continuum, within the new research frame of Sustainability Implementation Research (SIR).

Item ID: 5464
Item Type: Book Chapter (Reference)
ISBN: 978-0-387-30440-3
Keywords: community safety; evacuation; self-help; risk communication; community engagement
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An updated version of this Living Reference Work is available in ResearchOnline at the related URL.

Projects and Grants: Australian Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre
Date Deposited: 07 May 2010 04:15
FoR Codes: 12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120501 Community Planning @ 40%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 30%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960311 Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 50%
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