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  • Writer's picturejeannettesutton

Complete messages with room for improvement


WEAs issued 3/22/23


These messages are complete and include stylistic choices to increase attention (use of ALL CAPS for GO and EVACUATE) and offer more information (inclusion of a URL). In a world of poorly written WEAs, these are easy to read, understandable, and actionable. How can they be improved? We've noted before about the various language used to trigger evacuation for wildfires (to read about this, go to this recently published article by Kuligowski, Waugh, Sutton, and Cova ) and how it represents technical jargon that may be unfamiliar to some message receivers. In the 90-character message, the use of jargon is evident with the statement that the organization "issues GO status" - this is meaningful in so many ways, but mostly to insiders. "Issues" is legal language that indicates an order has been made by the PD; "GO status" represents a mix of threshold and actionable language. So much is packed into this short phrase! The second message (360-char) lays out the locations that need to evacuate immediately. This listing of so many streets that are at risk suggests room for improvement - not of the message itself, but of the WEA system. Recent recommendations have been made by the CSRIC Council VIII to conduct additional investigation into a mapping feature; this could be tremendously useful to alerting authorities and to the public if done well. One last thought... naming the hazard in the very last sentence looks almost like an afterthought in the 360 char message. This specific piece of information about why residents are asked to evacuate could be the key to reducing delayed action. Thankfully, the message was complete.

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