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Testing the public’s response to receiving Severe Flood Warnings using simulated Cell Broadcast

Smith, Kate R; Grant, Silvia; Thomas, Robert E


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Dr Kate Smith
Knowledge Exchange Fellow In Flood and Society

Silvia Grant

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Dr Robert Thomas
Senior Research Fellow in Geomorphology and Flood Risk


European Governments must implement a public alerting system to reach mobile phone users affected by major emergencies and disasters by June 2022. Cell Broadcast is used to issue emergency alerts in several countries but has not yet been introduced in the UK. This paper presents the results of a joint research exercise that explored recipients’ responses to cell broadcast messages that warned of floods of varying certainty, severity, and urgency. We adopted a mixed-methods approach employing semi-structured questions and focus groups to assess the perceptions of 80 workshop participants who received simulated emergency alerts on pre-prepared handsets. Our results suggest that although emergency alerting is welcomed, it is necessary to provide accurate and verifiable information, address accessibility challenges, and state location clearly and understandably. This life-saving technology, if used aptly by not over-alerting, specifying the specific urgency, certainty, severity and location of the flood risk, has the real potential of upgrading flood warnings in the UK.


Smith, K. R., Grant, S., & Thomas, R. E. (2022). Testing the public’s response to receiving Severe Flood Warnings using simulated Cell Broadcast. [Dataset]

Online Publication Date Aug 10, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 5, 2022
Keywords emergency alerts; cell broadcast; mobile alerts; flood warnings
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Type of Data Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA). REFI standard.
Collection Date Nov 26, 2019