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Collaborative Research: E-Government and the Preparation of Citizens for Natural Disasters      (Back to Search Results)

Grant Number: 429454

  • Description: Continuing grant
  • Associated Project:
  • Award Date:
  • Award Period: 2004-10-01 to 2005-09-30
  • Amount: $ 179443.00

Primary Investigator:
Victoria Basolo

Laura Steinberg
Victoria Basolo


Government Domain:

Primary Institution:
U of Cal Irvine

Project Home Page:

Latest Project Highlight:

City and county websites offer a new and innovative method to help citizens reduce the impacts of natural disaster events. While most localities prepare a disaster plan and invest in local emergency management to respond after disasters, individual households are far less prepared, and preparedness rates are particularly low for racial/ethnic minority households. The traditional modes of risk and preparedness communication have failed to reach or motivate residents to prepare for disasters. The community website is a potentially powerful tool to increase hazard preparedness. However, there is virtually no research on the development of local governments. web sites for hazard preparation or the usability of this information technology by community residents. This research will investigate the use of the World Wide Web by local governments and residents for delivering and receiving risk and preparedness information. Study areas will be communities in the Los Angeles and Miami; both areas are subject to natural disasters, earthquakes in the Los Angeles area and hurricanes in the Miami region. Using multiple data collection methods and sources of data, the research will examine the local government decision-making process for website development for risk communication and hazard preparedness; usability of local government websites for hazard-related information; and the potential impact of risk communication and disaster preparedness Web pages in motivating residents to take proactive measures. Website evaluation data and resident survey data will be combined with secondary sources for multivariate statistical analysis. Eight jurisdictions will be selected for case studies. Interviews with local government professional staff and officials will be conducted and these data, along with background materials, will be analyzed qualitatively. The results ofthis research will provide a unique contribution to the E-government and hazards literature of significant intellectual merit. The study brings together information technology, government, and citizens around a critical community issue: preparing for disasters. It will contribute significantly to our understanding of local government use of the web in general as well as for hazards; provide valuable information to policy makers and professionals about the use, coverage, and design of local government home pages; and examine the public decision-making process surrounding technology, community safety, and service to citizens. The research also will have broader impacts to education and society as a whole. The results of the research will provide valuable information to policymakers about risk communication via the web, and about impediments to use of their communities' websites for disaster preparedness. This knowledge can be used to remove barriers, improve hazard communication to racial/ethnic minorities, motivate increased disaster planning by citizens, and thus, promises to contribute to a reduction in human and property losses from disasters.