Research Matters

Research Matters

Emergency Management Web Sites

Through surveys and examination of web sites, David Guth, associate professor of journalism at KU, has found that state emergency management agencies don't use the Internet effectively in public outreach.

Aired November 9, 2008


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Transcript

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, new research shows state emergency managers still underutilize the Internet. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Through surveys and examination of web sites, David Guth, associate professor of journalism at KU, has found that state emergency management agencies don't use the Internet effectively in public outreach.

David Guth: Even though they are doing the angels, sometimes they are not seen as doing the work of the angels, and sometimes they get bedeviled by it, as they did in Katrina. It is important that all public agencies - especially emergency management agencies - have an ongoing outreach to the public to help them better understand what their mission is and at the same time listen to the concerns of the people so that they can anticipate and better respond during emergencies.

But in work funded by the KU Transportation Research Institute, Guth found that state emergency management web sites often leave the public out of the equation.

David Guth: Although the public information officers say that the people of their state are the most important target audiences of their state, clearly they are not. The most important audiences tend to be internal audiences. The most common information you find on these emergency management sites tends to be training information and information designed for other AMS and first responders. The public information tends to be outdated.

While emergency management web sites for Maryland and Kansas were exemplary, other states such as Texas still need work. In a report sent to emergency managers, Guth says one approach should be common to all emergency management sites.

David Guth: The top recommendation is that state EMS must do a better job of identifying the purposes and targeted stakeholders when designing the web sites. Clearly, I don't think that in some cases they have done that. I also think they need to recognize that the internet and emerging social media are as important in public outreach, even in emergencies, as more traditional media.

For more on emergency management web sites, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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Emergency Management Web Sites

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, new research shows state emergency managers still underutilize the Internet.

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