A research group based at the University of Maryland, College Park, has been awarded nearly $1 million to determine how best to communicate major threats and emergencies through text messaging.
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, received the grant from the Department of Homeland Security and its Science and Technology Directorate program, which aims to help authorities keep communities safe by determining how to alert residents to immediate dangers, according to a UM news release.
STARTís project will review and analyze the contents of warning messages that are dispatched from government systems and law enforcement agencies, according to the release.
The research team will write sample messages of varying lengths about threats ranging from weather-related events to acts of terrorism and will include the alert of the event and information on what action to take. The messages will then be reviewed by warning experts and legislators during a November workshop in Washington, D.C., to determine what format of message is most effective, according to the release.
"Now that we can literally put warnings into people's pockets, the challenge becomes determining what to say and how to say it to motivate the public to take appropriate protective actions," START researcher Brooke Fisher Liu, a UM professor of communication and the principal investigator of the project, said in a statement.