Identifying gaps in early warning mechanisms and evacuation procedures for tsunamis in Sri Lanka, with a special focus on the use of social media

Ravindu Udayantha Jayasekara, Gaindu Saranga Jayathilaka, Chandana Siriwardana, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh, Chaminda Bandara, Ranjith Dissanayake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The current National Early Warning System for Sri Lanka (NEWS: SL) was established after the devastations of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Although early warning (EW) systems and evacuation procedures are in place, several areas which need improvements have been emphasized in recent studies carried out in the country. Therefore, this paper aims to outline the gaps in existing EW and EP related to tsunami and other coastal hazards with a special focus on the use of social media for disaster communication based on age groups. Design/methodology/approach: This study has drawn on a review of past studies carried out by the same research team to identify the scope of the study. In addition to that, a conceptual framework was developed for the use of social media in the event of a disaster. Based on this conceptual framework, an online questionnaire was administered to identify the current status of the use of social media in Sri Lanka during a disaster situation. In total, 408 responses were collected and analyzed using the binary logistic regression method to evaluate the variation of different predictors associated with the use of social media for disaster communication. Findings: Findings of the study revealed that the use of social media for disaster communication depends on the previous experience of users and their age. The gender of users does not affect the use of social media for disaster communication. Therefore, the accuracy and timeliness of disaster information distributed via social media should be improved further to enhance the use of social media for disaster communication. Moreover, the findings have highlighted unaddressed issues in areas such as governance; communication of technical agencies; evacuation and shelters; and response of the community. Originality/value: This paper has identified key areas that need attention in the process of enhancing the use of social media for disaster communication. More use of technological platforms such as social media for receiving disaster-related information can address issues such as bottlenecks in communication, poor awareness and lack of last-mile dissemination. Furthermore, this paper has proposed recommendations for addressing the identified gaps in the overall EW mechanisms and EP pertaining to tsunamis and other coastal hazards to enhance the coastal disaster resilience in Sri Lanka.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
Early online date27 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sep 2021

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