Evaluating earthquake information in the light of public needs

Theme: Pan-disciplinary

Primary Supervisor:

David Alexander

Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, UCL

Project Description:

The trial and prosecution of seven scientists and public administrators after the L’Aquila earthquake (Italy, 2009) has shaken the earth science community to the core. However, no other recent event at the interface of science and society has been so thoroughly misunderstood.

This project will evaluate the trial, the developing situation at L’Aquila, and other seismic emergencies in which public information has been paramount in saving lives and reducing impacts. It will also draw upon UCL’s formal commitment to collaborate with Tohoku University”s Disaster Research Institute in the area of Japan affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Here as well, public information proved to be erroneous and a poor guide to needed self-protective behaviour.

The project will draw upon records of decision-making, public actions and earth science information to construct a model of communication and response. This will be tested by participatory research in areas of high seismic risk.

Policy Impact of Research:

Through the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and in collaboration with Italian and Japanese civil protection agencies, the project will improve communication with the public using multidisciplinary evaluation to help improve safety measures.


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