Communicating with Citizens in a Crisis
“The future of emergency communications requires a new ecosystem that enhances capacity and capability by creating an environment that is accessible, equitable, and anticipates change as a constant state.”
This is the key finding of research designed to identify policy recommendations for the EU and intended to be of assistance to policy makers at national, regional, and local levels. It recognises that current models of communication in relation to emergencies are typically oriented towards top-down or single direction communication, flowing from professionals to lay persons. The impact of this legacy approach extends far beyond the obvious and visible delivery mechanisms. It also frames the underpinning research, discussions, and attitudes. As such, it perpetuates existing limitations and biases of the system, for example, an under-appreciation of the needs, roles, and contributions of citizens and communities.
It also means that global aspirations- such as enhancing resilience and integration- can, at best, only ever be partially achieved because they are only seen through a narrow and restrictive lens. This has profound implications and fundamental changes are required to better accommodate multi-directional communication in which the role of authorities and professionals adapts to one of enablement, rather than control.