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Setting the Stage for Early Earthquake Alerts and Warnings

Shah Family Fund Distinguished Lecture
Ann Bostrom
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 4:30pm
Li Ka Shing Conference Center, Stanford University



Early earthquake warning (EEW) systems hold great promise. The few EEW systems deployed around the world have helped prevent and mitigate damage from earthquakes. While the technologies to detect threats, their reliability, and the length of time needed to achieve accuracy in forecasts and predictions in EEW are important factors in achieving this, equally important are how EEW rely on human mediation; channels for issuing warnings; familiarity and institutionalization of warning procedure; settings in which systems are used; and system goals and objectives. In other words, how early earthquake alerts and warnings are interpreted and what actions people take in response to them depend on cognitive, emotive, social and institutional contexts, as well as on their natural and built environment. A key lesson from prior research on hazard warnings is that people need actionable information on what to do, not just that there is a threat. With seconds to minutes of lead time, accomplishing this will require setting the stage for action by working with communities and institutions to develop goals, procedures, and expectations.

Ann Bostrom is the Weyerhaeuser Endowed Professor of Environmental Policy in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. Bostrom holds a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.B.A. from Western Washington University, a B.A, in English from the University of Washington, and completed postdoctoral studies in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and in cognitive aspects of survey methodology at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as an American Statistical Association/National Science Foundation/Bureau of Labor Statistics Research Associate. Her research focuses on risk perception, communication, and management; and environmental policy and decision making. She has authored or contributed to numerous publications, including Risk Communication: A Mental Models Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2002), Risk Assessment, Modeling and Decision Support: Strategic Directions (Berlin: Springer, 2008). Bostrom is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Risk Research, Risk Communication Area Editor for Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, and on the editorial board of Risk Analysis. She is currently a member of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Scientific Committee, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science Advisory Board Environmental Information Services Working Group, and the National Academies Committee to Review the IRIS Process. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow and past President of the Society for Risk Analysis. Bostrom also received the Chauncey Starr award for a young risk analyst from the Society For Risk Analysis for her work on mental models of hazardous processes.

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