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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.


Silvia Grant


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. Natural hazards, 112, 1611-1631.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 26, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 16, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 18, 2022
Journal Natural Hazards
Print ISSN 0921-030X
Electronic ISSN 1573-0840
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 112
Pages 1611-1631
Keywords Common alerting protocol; Cell broadcast; Emergency; Behavioural insights; Mobile alerting; Flood; Messaging; Warnings
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Published article (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2022.
Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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