CIVIL ENGINEERING 365 ALL ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING



Routledge, Milton Park, UK; 2019; ISBN 978-1-138-08821-4; 28 pp,; $80.00.This edited book by Bandana Kar and David M. Cochran is the sixth volume of the Routledge Studies in Hazards, Disaster Risks, and Climate Change. The authors are geographers by training. Dr. Kar is a research scientist in critical infrastructure and climate at the Urban Dynamics Institute of the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Cochran is a senior faculty member at the School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences of the University of Southern Mississippi with specializations in cultural and political ecology, Latin America, and Europe. The volume includes 15 chapters distributed into four parts centered on risk participation in the digital era, with three chapters; citizen participation, risk communication, and challenges and opportunities, each with four chapters. It is a very eclectic anthology of risk communication writings reflective of the inordinate breadth of the risk communication area. It is only possible to give a very partial and incomplete summary of the rich number of topics covered by the 32 authors that are involved in it.Two chapters present theory tests. The first is Jason Rivera’s Chapter 2 on bounded rationality and federal disaster recovery assesses the extent to which indicators of various dimensions of bounded rationality theory predicted the extent to which information about available disaster recovery resources encouraged survivors of Hurricane Sandy to apply for public assistance (they did). The use of bounded rationality theory to examine the effectiveness of risk communications is a useful contribution to the risk communication literature. There is also an interesting study by Andrew Hilburn and Thomas Zawisza in Chapter 4 examining participatory risk mapping in which groups construct their understandings of risks such as drug violence rather than accepting the definitions proffered by the experts. It studies the cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The respondents identified and ranked 47 types of risks. Subsequently, the most frequently mentioned risks were divided into violent and nonviolent risks and then analyzed using ordinary logistic regression. Visits to both cities were related to violent-type risks. However, in different ways: the visits to Laredo were statistically significantly related to lower perceptions of violent-type risks, but the opposite is true to Nuevo Laredo, which augmented the fear of violence. It is a substantial methodological contribution to risk communication during disasters.Four chapters emphasize institutions: tourism (Christopher Craig et al., Chapter 12; Matthew Fahrenbruch, Chapter 13), schools (Tyler Page et al., Chapter 14), and ports (Lauren Morris and Tracie Sampier, Chapter 10). Craig and coauthors examined the tourism industry in the coastal community of Virginia Beach and emphasized the types of communications that would be most useful to businesses, their clients, and the community. Longitudinal data of the area show a decrease in minimum temperatures and an increase in precipitation and extreme weather events. The study also presents information on the determinants of occupancy. It concludes with the request that there is a need to develop strategies to communicate the chances of extreme weather events to prospective visitors. It is a worthwhile effort, although the links of the local economy to crisis risk communication are not as developed as they could have been. The next chapter, authored by Fahrenbruch, is also a study of risk communication and the tourism industry, this time of the threat of tsunamis to San Juan del Sur, a tourist destination on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. It includes an informative precis of the emergency management of that country and the efforts to improve it after the massive 1992 tsunamis that impacted San Juan del Sur. However, it also documents the widespread misconceptions that private and public officials held regarding the best ways to advance the interests of the tourist industry, and concomitantly, the nation’s interest in the responsible development of the coast. The chapter is a useful reminder of the problems uninformed government officials pose to effective crisis communication. It would have been useful to hear from this author what he thinks can change their prevailing negative view. Page and coauthors switch the emphasis to kindergarten to twelfth-grade schools in the US. It is a critical empirical study of the importance of crisis planning in these often-threatened sites structured around a set of critical practical questions such as what social media outlet is used most often (Facebook) and the degree of preparation by the schools (incomplete). One of their interesting observations is the difficulties schools face in developing meaningful relations with significant members of their communities that could help them understand the emerging risks that may threaten them. These authors’ insights are very relevant, given the current national controversy regarding the risks of opening the schools amid an ongoing deadly pandemic. Chapter 10, by Morris and Sempier, is an intriguing study trying to show how they used the participatory approach in the development of the Ports Resilience Index (PRI). The PRI includes questions tapping the following nine components: planning, hazard assessment, infrastructure and assets; insurance; continuity of operations planning; internal communication; external communication; emergency operations; and record and finance. Like Hilburn and Zawisza’s methodological approach, they used participatory methods to identify risk communication practices, although the precise ways in which port authorities used them is not entirely clear to this writer.Another four chapters examine government programs. Deedee Bennet and Salimah LaForce (Chapter 1) reviewed issues related to the accessibility by minority populations to the wireless emergency alert (WEA), a significant, persistent problem to the risk communication field. Similarly, Bandana Kar and coauthors (Chapter 3) studied factors hypothesized to predict the acceptability of different WEA message content. Its most important finding is that respondents of Asian and Hispanic descent preferred to receive messages in their native languages and that reconfiguring such messages may increase their compliance with evacuation notices. Their in-depth treatment of this subject matter is a welcome contribution. In Chapter 5, Ava Christie summarizes an earlier 2017 report by this same author about the relative effectiveness of the local emergency planning committees (LEPC) established in 1986 by Title III of the Superfund Reauthorization Act (SARA). It looks at their location, membership, and planning approach. In Chapter 7, Oluponmile Onolinua presents Nigeria’s disaster management system and ways to promote public involvement in disaster risk communication in that country.Three chapters in this collection examine social media and risk communication. Suzanne Frew in Chapter 6 examines the extent to which social media is an effective means to increase disaster risk reduction measures and mitigation planning efforts. It includes a detailed outline of what is involved in the integration of social media into mitigation planning. Kathryn Anthony and coauthors in Chapter 9 also write about ways that social media strengthens risk communication, with segments devoted to location information and hazard response. Amber Silver (Chapter 15) presents a thoughtful treatment of the use of social media in crisis communication. It includes a section on the potential weaknesses of social media and how to minimize their effects during disasters. The literature widely acknowledges the impact of social media on risk communication.Two chapters explore risk communications centered on the earthquake hazard. In Chapter 8, Frances Edwards and coauthors write a valuable examination of the earthquake early warning systems. It is a topic not often discussed. They emphasize the experiences of California and Japan. One of its significant parts focuses on the successes and remaining difficulties of the rapid warning systems operated during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. The other is Chapter 11, written by Haorui Wu, centered on the Lushan, China, earthquake of April 20, 2013. It includes a list of well-known prescriptive measures such as the need to understand residents’ demands and reduce their anxiety and the reality that designer–user partnership encourages local innovation and facilitates sustainable development. It mentions the Chinese system of disaster response and, in passing, aspects involving the central, provincial, and local governments. It is a system that is still poorly understood at present, particularly its crisis communication practices. Early warnings to potential victims of earthquakes became widely known in the 1980s, and these authors help us understand the advances and the remaining difficulties with this approach to risk communication during disasters.The monograph does not include possible solutions to the trials that the new types of cascading and concurrent disasters pose for risk communication planning and action. These new types of disasters pile up multiple demands that are, at times, contradictory and may not be amenable to anyone’s risk communication approach. An example is the current situation in Puerto Rico that is currently battling the continued challenges posed by a chronic economic crisis and associated poverty, as well as the problems created by recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and continued deadly pandemic. How to communicate the risks these hazards represent and the appropriate solutions remains an essential challenge to the specialty.Given the vast scope of the literature on risk communication, it is not possible for any edited collection to cover every relevant issue. Nevertheless, this collection includes research on a number of some of the most important topics. They range from theoretical and methodological applications to the role risk communication plays in business success, the communication challenges raised by tourists, the unique communication risk profiles of schools, the difficulties in integrating the new electronic communication technologies into established risk communication mediums, and the successes and continued difficulties faced by systems of rapid earthquake warnings. It is an ambitious effort and an excellent addition for undergraduate and graduate courses on emergency management and disaster science.



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