Magazine article Risk Management

Mass Communication in a Pandemic

Magazine article Risk Management

Mass Communication in a Pandemic

Article excerpt

In the "Report to the President on U.S. Preparations for the 2009 H1N1 Influenza," the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that, because of "the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak, the number and complexity of the messages and the myriad of channels through which the public will be receiving information," effective communications would be one of the most difficult challenges in managing the outbreak.

One solution might be mass notification technology. Designed for the rapid and pervasive dissemination of information to large populations, modern mass notification technology has moved beyond the traditional blaring sirens or flashing lights that characterized early systems. Newer systems have evolved to exploit the power of information technology, computer systems and the internet to reach hundreds of thousands of geographically dispersed people through multiple devices in a matter of minutes, using intrusive alerts and two-way communication methods that ensure alert receipt.

These network-centric alerting systems allow authorized personnel to manage, control and disseminate clear and accurate information to individuals or specialized groups, such as hospital administrators, HAZMAT experts, government officials and medical response teams. For example, if a specific geographic region is identified as being especially hard hit by the spread of H1N1, public health officials could use mass notification systems to contact high risk groups or the first responder community, and quickly direct them to health facilities for vaccination.

With network-centric emergency notification, alerts are triggered from a web-based console from any network-connected computer or device. Once activated, alerts are disseminated across the internet or internal organizational networks in the form of intrusive audio/ visual messages to desktop computers and mobile devices such as phones, pagers, BlackBerry devices and PDAs. These systems can also use websites, social networks and other nontraditional channels. And, because many traditional alerting channels (sirens, telephones) now have IP interfaces, the system can trigger alerts to those traditional channels as well.


At first glance, traditional mass media (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.