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  • Writer's picturejeannettesutton

90 Characters of Jargon


The warning gallery has previously displayed examples of incomplete messages that could use improvement. In this case. we're focused on the 90-character version of a wildfire message using technical jargon.


Wildfire "trigger language" (the word that Kuligowski et al. use to indicate that evacuation is imminent or to trigger evacuation behavior) is a type of jargon that is employed inconsistently across varying jurisdictions. One set of phrases that has been adopted is "Ready, Set, Go" indicating "be aware" "prepare" and then "take action." When used separately, they need a bit of explanation, when used absent a hazard name or impact statement, they can lead to bewilderment.


In the messages here, we see a rather complete 360 character message and a thoroughly incomplete 90 character message. Using our common rubric for evaluation, it barely meets the threshold for protective action guidance (prepare to do what? for what reason? how?).


A complete warning message would include the message source, the name of the hazard and its potential impacts, the location of the threat, the protective action guidance, and the time of action.


Trigger language for wildfires frequently contain some sort of coded insider language that, if the receiver is adequately trained, could be meaningful and indicate the hazard and its impact along with the jargon about "set status." However, a message receiver without this technical language will likely be delayed in their action as they seek additional information about the sender, the threat, and what exactly to prepare to do.


We really can, and should, do better.

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