The Disaster Research Center (DRC) at the University of Delaware aims to help communities become as prepared as possible for unplanned and sometimes unthinkable events. Researchers are looking at everything from public response to communications and transportation issues in hopes of saving more lives in the future. Find out more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation
As our fascination and passion for avatars increases, researchers are investigating the influence of our virtual world characters on our “real world” lives. For example, if your avatar starts jogging to get into shape and begins to look thinner, how might that influence your desire to exercise or lose weight in the real world? Find out more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation
The Los Angeles Police Department is using a new tactic in its fight against crime called "predictive policing." It's a computer program that was originally developed by a team at UCLA, including mathematician Andrea Bertozzi and anthropologist Jeff Brantingham. Learn more in this Science Behind the News video.
Credit: NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation
The Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES) of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences seeks to enhance our understanding of human, social and organizational behavior by building social science infrastructure, by developing social disciplinary and interdisciplinary research projects that advance knowledge in the social and economic sciences.
The cities that are most active in preparing for climate change are not necessarily the biggest or wealthiest. Quito, Ecuador, is considered to be at the forefront of metropolises worldwide in planning for climate change. For more than a decade, officials in Ecuador’s mountainous capital have been studying the effects of global warming on nearby melting glaciers, developing ways of dealing with potential water shortages and even organizing conferences on climate change for leaders of other Latin American cities.
Whether caused by acts of nature, human error or even malevolence, disasters are an increasingly costly threat. Although most people assume they will not become victims, individual risk grows as homes and businesses encroach deeper into disaster-prone regions. NSF is working with other federal agencies in a coordinated effort to anticipate disasters and minimize their effects.
July 1, 2013
Understanding Human Nature When Mother Nature Wreaks Havoc
StormView™ software program gauges how residents react to warnings, prepare for storms
StormView™ is a software program that gauges how residents of hurricane-prone regions might react in the event of an imminent storm. It was developed by University of Miami professor Kenny Broad and a number of collaborators, and supported with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The program is designed to be as realistic as possible in order to accurately assess how people would prepare for storms and respond to warnings. It includes TV meteorologist broadcasts, newspaper stories, web stories, bulletins from NOAA and even interactions with neighbors.
One of Broad's collaborators, Bob Meyer, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, describes how the idea developed in 2007. "I suggested doing a simulator for hurricanes like those used in the private sector to predict responses to new-to-the-world products (called "information acceleration"), where you watch hypothetical TV ads, talk to neighbors...," recalls Meyer, who specializes in risk management and decision making at the Wharton School of Business.
"One natural point of skepticism is the worry that the way people behave in the lab may not be how they react during real storms, so we started conducting real-time surveys of people as hurricanes were approaching the coast, and found that behavior in StormView™ really does mirror real world behavior, meaning heavy reliance on TV, surprisingly limited use of friends as a source of storm advice...," explains Meyer.
Meyer and Broad developed the program with the help of a third collaborator, Ben Orlove, an anthropologist in Columbia University's Center for Research in Environmental Decisions, where Meyer and Broad are also affiliated.
"It is well-known that Americans are saturated with visual information in the media," notes Orlove. "Since media images are everywhere, it is hard to sort out their impact on warnings for potentially deadly storms, such as hurricanes."
"For example, if one image is shown for one storm and a different image is shown for another storm, you can't tell whether responses vary because of the images, the storm, or something else going on at the time. But, with our simulator, we can randomly assign people to one image or another, and we can then assess the true impact of each image. In fact, we were surprised by what we found, and were able to make better recommendations for images that would truly resonate with people and get their attention," explains Orlove.
"Despite the good intentions of meteorologists, many citizens misunderstand warning messages," says Robert O’Connor, program director for decision, risk and management sciences within the NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. "The StormView™ simulation provides a way for social scientists to collaborate with meteorologists to tailor more effective messages. When citizens understand the threat, they are more likely to take steps to reduce risks to themselves, their families and their communities."
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.