Effective communication of Operational Earthquake Forecasts (OEF): findings from a New Zealand workshop

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Becker, J.S.; McBride, S.K.; Potter, S.H.; Gerstenberger, M.C.; Christophersen, A. 2018 Effective communication of Operational Earthquake Forecasts (OEF) : findings from a New Zealand workshop. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2016/45. 49 p.; doi: 10.21420/G2DH00

Abstract: Operational Earthquake Forecasts (OEFs) describe the time-dependent probabilities of earthquakes, and have been communicated for many earthquakes in New Zealand since 2010. This research sought to explore options for improving communication of OEFs both in the context of forecasts before a major earthquake, and after a major earthquake has occurred. In October 2015, we conducted a workshop with 14 participants from a range of organisations in Wellington to understand how earthquake forecasting might be of use to them, how they would like an OEF communicated to them, and their perceived challenges for OEFs. We found that there was a high level of support for OEFs, and a wide range of potential uses of the information, including to assist with their understanding of risk, planning, informing decisions and actions, and informing their communications with the public. Participants suggested that they would like to receive OEF information in multiple formats, although maps were the most popular. We describe the time windows, thresholds, and variables that the participants would like the information to be framed in. Our findings support the notion that much can be done to prepare OEF communications in advance of the next event, and that relationships should be built between agencies to develop trust and ease of communication in an event. We suggest that there be investigation and co-development of preparedness and response actions that can accompany OEF information, and further research into user needs for OEF communications. Findings from this research will be used to inform the development of future OEF generation and communication. (auth)