Community Risk Reduction aims to do more than simply educate communities about emergencies and preparations, choosing instead to advance deeper forms of collaboration and partnerships. The approach, which was developed by Dr. Brian Cook from the Faculty of Science, is a mixture of face-to-face engagement and online technologies. It aims to ‘flatten’ the power-relationships that tend to characterize risk management. The hypothesis being tested is that more egalitarian partnerships may generate interest and result in risk reduction activities amongst the public whilst, at the same time, altering the perceptions of risk managers. The activity is being used as an integral component of a Masters subject within the School of Geography.
Learning Environments worked in close partnership with Brian to design and create a solution that uses a mix of printed resources and digital technologies. As a result, a responsive and interactive website was built for use by students and emergency services to gather information during community door-knocking sessions. This “Door Knockers” component of the website also helps coordinate the data collection and follow-up activities, capturing various data, include addresses, GPS locations, and emergency preparedness information from respondents. The engagement also asks the public to help ‘spread the word’, using the provided hand-around cards and social media tools. The data is available to the research team for download to enable analysis.
The same website has a public-facing component that presents information about the project, provides a set of resources relating to the various emergency situations and hazards, and allows the general public to enter their emergency preparedness information and to update these if they choose to become more prepared. A respondents’ heatmap and a set of live graphs provide the public with a summary of findings along with a comparison of their views or actions with those of their community.
The site has been running now for a period of 4 months and is showing that people are taking actions – the project has created interest in the State Emergency Services, Country Fire Authority, and Red Cross, which has lead to efforts to expand the project.
We invite you to contribute to this project by visiting communityriskreduction.org.au.