Social scientists from two European projects are currently identifying characteristics that could help us prevent crises from happening and respond quickly when they occur. They conclude that working across cultures and backgrounds is one of the key challenges for the future due to the increasingly international nature of many crises: "Risk and disaster management has become increasingly cross border and we need to find the best ways to learn and exchange ideas". It's all about managing cascading effects!
Two major elements are to be taken into account according to the projects' researchers:
- Behavioral analysis
Researchers from the ENLIGHTEN project are mapping out fast- and slow-moving crises in terms of the key people involved in a particular risk area, whether it’s tax, housing and health, low birth rates or ageing. By pinpointing these different experts, researchers can create a picture of what a crisis looks like and begin to understand how a crisis behaves as well as what can be done to improve alertness.
This type of behaviour analysis could provide a way of spotting a new crisis emerge and then identifying who is likely to have the knowledge to prevent its development.
- Communication strategy
‘We take it for granted, but it’s the backbone of a lot of risk management,’ Dr Kuhlicke said. ‘Many organisations are investing heavily in communication because they want to improve warning systems so people know what to do.’
Dr Kuhlicke is the project coordinator of the TACTIC project, which has developed an online platform that allows organisations to assess their risk communication and learn more from best practices in dealing with terrorism, pandemics, floods and earthquakes.
Researchers give two representative examples of their theory:
- Flood in Saxony, Germany: citizens goes from house to house to warn that the flood might affect infrastructures
- November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris: inhabitants warned each other of the risks on being outside on social medias
To read more about this subject: European Commission