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  • Writer's picturejeannettesutton

Does sending a WEA reduce call volume?

Every once in a while, The Warn Room will see a WEA that appears to have been issued with the intent of reducing traffic to a local 911 call center or other organization that could be tasked with fielding public concerns.

Air pollution alert

Incoming calls from concerned citizens can overwhelm public safety answering points, preventing them from providing timely response to urgent concerns that require immediate response. This is one of those messages where an organization clearly states that is is aware and responding to the threat.

While we don’t know if issuing this WEA actually reduced call volume, we can see that there are a few issues that need to be addressed to improve the message quality. These include the name of the message source and the use of ALL CAPS for the entire message.

Revised message for air pollution alert

It’s possible the residents in Hamilton County are familiar with “Air Pollution” as an organizational name and that their role is to monitor and respond to brush fires or wild fires in the area. However, if it is unfamiliar, the name of the source can be improved by adding a detail about it’s affiliation with county government as an authoritative responder.

Second, this message is difficult to read due to the use of ALL CAPS. By using a font with all upper case letters, readers must work much harder to read and interpret words in comparison with those that are lower case, make use of a serif (a type of font that is better for reading text), or use ALL CAPS to draw attention to key words, such as “AVOID OUTDOORS.”

While text fields for WEA don’t presently offer many options for emphasizing differences in text, the use of ALL CAPS is one strategy that can improve the readability of a message. Alternatively, its use can make it more difficult to read and interpret. Making it word FOR you instead of AGAINST you should be the goal.


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