Good Practice for Delivering Flood-Related Information to the General Public


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A. Context of the work

In January 2005, the members of the Exchange Circle on Flood Forecasting (EXCIFF) identified the main subjects of interest for the exchange of experiences and information on flood forecasting.

It was identified that one of the most important issues in flood warning is the way the general public (GP) is informed about flood events. No matter how good and reliable a flood forecast technically is, without a proper communication to the general public, the primary objective of flood warning is not achieved. Consequently, the European Water Directors asked EXCIFF to produce a guide about “how to deliver flood-related information to the general public?”. The Guide at hand is the result of this work.

B. Framework

This guide focuses on several good practices for delivering flood-related information to the general public. Even if the writing group is aware that flood forecasting information has to be delivered to national, regional and local rescue services, civil protection and other organisations, it has limited its mandate in targeting its work to the information to the general public (to the end to limit the amount of work for this first stage). Consequently, this guide is addressing the way to inform the general public only, thus excluding the way the authorities responsible for safety are informed.

The Guide is aimed at national or local bodies producing and disseminating information about flood forecasting. In its current shape it is not for general public’s use.

This Guide is thought to be applicable to any European country. However, the different ways countries are organised to produce and provide information to the public can impact or limit the content of this guide.

C. Definitions

The key words used in the following are defined as below.

• flood event
o “ Temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water. This shall include floods from rivers, mountain torrents, Mediterranean ephemeral water courses, and floods from the sea in coastal areas, and may exclude floods from sewerage systems” – Reference: Proposed EU Flood Directive, 2006

• flood warning
o “Advance notice that a flood may occur in the near future at a certain station or in a certain river basin” – Reference: UNESCO/WMO, Gloss. Hydrology, 1992

• Push and pull modes
o Two modes of communication exist:

  • (a) Pull Mode or Proactive: a reader/collector (in this case: the general public or flood affected population) polls an exporter (e.g. the flood forecasting centre) periodically in order to gather data or forecasts, usually through a request/reply mechanism (e.g. internet or WAPservices).
  • (b) Push Mode or Reactive: an exporter (e.g. the flood forecasting centre) pushes out data/information to a set of readers/collectors (in this case the flood affected population) registered as listeners when a pre-defined event occurs (e.g. phone services, public broadcasts in the street).

But the two modes should be mixed. For example flood information in a pull mode will reach the flood-affected population only where this communication mode is used and accepted by the GP. When opening a new pull mode system users have to be informed and trained on it.

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