Hazard warning systems for the Gisborne district : assessment of options

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Leonard, G.S.; Saunders, W.S.A.; Johnston, D.M. 2007 Hazard warning systems for the Gisborne district : assessment of options. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2007/04 70 p.

Abstract: The Gisborne district has a large proportion of the components of an effective warning system in place reaching the majority of its residents. This review defines an effective warning system as one which goes beyond early warning and public notification systems and hardware to ensure the public will respond correctly to warning messages they receive. Effective warnings require both substantial community engagement, and exercising of the warning system – both issues are already being addressed in Gisborne. The rural communities of the district regularly experience warning events (especially for flooding). Coupled with a strong sense of community common in smaller settlements, they are well prepared to be resilient to hazard events. The urban centres of Gisborne district, especially Gisborne City, have less experience of hazard events. Cities also have more spread out communities, often based on common interests, which means support networks in individual neighbourhoods or streets may be less-well developed. The Community Link network of Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) volunteers in the district is a particularly powerful community engagement and preparedness tool. The volunteer network is well developed and tested in rural areas. One option that would improve the response to urban warnings is more urban community-link groups that regularly exercise warning response actions. The development of any new public notification hardware for Gisborne district in isolation is probably not a cost-effective option for further improving warning response. Communication links to community-link groups are already regularly tested and relatively robust. National initiatives for public notification of warnings may enhance what is already in place in Gisborne. Of particular interest is the potential for use of emerging mobile technologies. The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) has recently drafted a briefing document outlining steps towards creating a working group to look at mobile technologies, initially focusing on Cell Broadcasting. Gisborne district would benefit from keeping abreast of these advances and consider pushing for timely convening of, and results from, such a working group. Public education, including maps and signage, is the key to effective response to warning systems. Gisborne district will maximise the effectiveness of its warning arrangements by further developing education and planning resources for key hazards (especially tsunami, flooding, and volcanic ash fall) in cooperation with the community. This report reviews factors to be considered when developing educational materials and working with the community, based on research elsewhere in New Zealand and internationally. (auth)