Untapped Potential:
Evaluating State Emergency Management Agency Web Sites 2008

Associate Professor David W. Guth, APR - Principal Investigator
Funded by the University of Kansas Transportation Research Institute



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Research shows that the nation's state emergency management agencies
should make greater use of the Internet
xxxxx(Lawrence, Kansas/1 Oct. 2008) - Despite post-Hurricane Katrina calls for improved communication, a University of Kansas study has concluded that state emergency management agencies (EMAs) across the United States have been slow to adopt Internet-based resources to reach out to the public during emergencies.
XXXXXAccording to Untapped Potential: Evaluating State Emergency Management Web Sites 2008, state EMA Web sites appear to place a greater emphasis on reaching first responders than they do the citizens of their state or the news reporters who reach them.  The study urges state emergency planners to recognize that Internet and emerging social media are important public outreach tools. Funded by the University of Kansas Transportation Research Institute, the study analyzed 51 state EMA Web sites (including the District of Columbia) and the results of an online survey of state EMA public information officers. The 48-page report outlined 13 findings of the research and made six recommendations to the nation's emergency managers.
XXXXX"I hope this report will spark serious discussions nationwide about the role of Internet communication before, during and following crisis situations," said Associate Professor David W. Guth, the author of the study.  "The purpose of this research is not so much as to criticize state EMA officials as it is to shed light upon practices that can help them fulfill the public safety mission to which they have dedicated themselves."
XXXXXWhile 80 percent of online survey respondents indicated that residents of their state were primary audiences of EMA Web sites, the most-frequently found feature on their Internet sites was first responder/emergency manager training information. According to Untapped Potential, less than half of the Web sites provided the identity of the agency's public information officer, his/her direct telephone number, and a direct e-mail address.  The report said that Web site technicians appear to have more influence on their content than do the emergency managers who supervise them. While survey respondents said they see moderate value in using the Internet during emergencies, they also said they do not see the Internet as the equal to more traditional communications media, such as radio and television.

Additional research publications/presentations News coverage
Speech to the Medical Reserve Corps of Kansas City WAW School of Journalism and Mass Coms. coverage
2009 AEJMC Paper Homeland 1 coverage 
2009 AEJMC Presentation Handout KU - "Research Matters" (radio interview)
2009 AEJMC Presentation Script

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This page last updated 29 July 2009