ABSTRACT

Role of Information and Communication in Disaster Response: An Overview   [open pdf - 149KB]

This report is part of chapter five of five chapters in the series: Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference. The following is taken from the introduction of the report: "Only recently has emphasis (at least in words if not deeds) on the information element of power surfaced as a key contributor to strategic success. In fact the United States is just getting around to coming up with an acceptable term to describe the way the nation wields information as power: Strategic Communication. The government is still arguing about the pure definition of this term, but, in order to establish a baseline, consider the definition from the Department of Defense's Quadrennial Defense Review. Strategic Communication is defined as: Focused United States Government (USG) processes and efforts to understand and engage key audiences in order to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable to advance national interests and objectives through the use of coordinated information, themes, plans, programs, and actions synchronized with other elements of national power. In its simplest form, strategic communication in disasters and catastrophes serves several purposes: first, prior to the event, it can serve to manage the expectations of the public regarding the capabilities and potential assistance provided at all levels of government; second it provides public information prior to and during the event to facilitate the safety and security of U.S. citizens; and finally, it can, if proactively and effectively used in conjunction with visible ongoing relief efforts, serve to increase the credibility of government and serve as a calming influence to the citizenry. Strategic communication during domestic disasters also serves a foreign policy role. Effective USG strategic communication can portray the United States as a capable, efficient and effective responder to the needs of its people and so send a message to emerging democracies regarding the role of government toward the needs of its citizens. On the other hand, poor USG strategic communication can contribute to the opposite perception world-wide."

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Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference
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