Sound the alarm! Improving disaster warning systems

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Katina MichaelUniversity of Wollongong
Paul BarnesQUT
Peter JohnsonARUP
Thomas DuffUniversity of Melbourne
Joseph MiltonAustralian Science Media Centre


With the bushfire and cyclone seasons upon us, to what extent can we rely on technology-based early warning systems to give us the notice required to get out or to prepare? Are there effective systems in place to let us know whether bushfires, tsunamis or earthquakes are headed our way, and do people heed the warnings they receive anyway? Join us for this background briefing, where our distinguished panel will discuss existing warning systems, how they could be improved and how people react to warnings. The expert panel will discuss the following issues: What kinds of incident do we have early warning systems in place for? Are there other types of disaster we could develop early warning systems for? What technologies are used for early warning systems? Are existing systems effective? How could existing systems be improved? How do people respond when they receive early warnings? How do we reach at-risk people who don’t own the technology required to receive early warnings? Is there a danger of ‘warning fatigue’, repeated exposure that could lead people to ignore warnings of real events? Collecting national data on disasters How can we improve bushfire forecasts?

Suggested Citation

Katina Michael, Paul Barnes, Peter Johnson, Thomas Duff, and Joseph Milton. "Sound the alarm! Improving disaster warning systems" Background Briefing: Australian Science Media CentreJan. 2013: 12.00 p.m.-1.00 p.m..