By Kathleen Ohlson - February 25, 2021
State and local agencies experienced one of the most historic — and chaotic — years in 2020.
Over 500,000 Americans died from the coronavirus. A recording-breaking 22 weather disasters impacted the U.S. Over 40 states reported an increase in opioid-related mortalities during the pandemic. Months of civil unrest.
The fallout from the pandemic has led to a myriad of economic issues for millions of residents, including more than 50 million people, including 17 million children, are experiencing food insecurity.
These crises are continuing into this year and, much like last year, state and local agencies will often need to manage them simultaneously. State and local public health agencies are rolling out vaccines to residents, as officials combat the variants of COVID-19. Meanwhile, experts are still trying to figure out the long-term impact of residents’ mental health as they experience social distancing, isolation and other related matters. Record-breaking storms and cold temperatures, tornadoes and wildfires have already impacted community members in most of the country. Local government officials and first responders are searching for different ways to respond to critical incidents.
Residents want to know what’s going on and what actions to take when an adverse event strikes, as well as stay updated. But it’s challenging for state and local agencies to get the information out to their communities. There are various ways for residents to receive information from local officials, including governors, mayors and public health leaders.
These were some of the findings from a survey commissioned by Rave Mobile Safety and conducted by the independent research firm ResearchScape. The survey, 2021 Survey Report: Emergency Communication and Public Safety Trust, looked to gain a better understanding of some of the communication challenges facing state and local agencies. More than 1,000 adults across the country responded to the survey. These residents expressed their concerns about a myriad of matters, including public safety, COVID-19, vaccines and how they receive information and updates in these areas.
Video: COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Engagement
Getting the message out is one of the more complex matters that emergency managers, public health personnel, 9-1-1 teams, first responders and government officials often tackle before, during and after an adverse event. Trusting the source of information is now a major hindrance for state and local agencies. False news stories are 70% more likely to be retweeted than trust stories are. Meanwhile, people spend about 64 seconds reading a fake news article, compared to only 42 seconds on a verified news story.
It’s challenging for officials to get their message out and encourage residents to trust that same message. Only 22% of respondents said they completely trust the information they receive from local officials, according to the Rave survey.
For these respondents, the topic matters when it comes to trusting the message from their state and local officials.
So how can state and local officials gain the trust of their community members? How can they break through the chaos and competing ways residents get their information? Survey respondents said there are ways for state and local officials to gain their trust.
Preparing for and responding to a community in crisis is a complex undertaking for emergency managers, 9-1-1 teams, first responders, public health personnel and government leaders. Keeping an entire community informed is essential for their safety, as well as the community’s successful recovery from an adverse event. It becomes even more important when these stakeholders have minutes, maybe even only seconds to respond.
A critical communication and collaboration platform will help those on the front lines collaborate and leverage their skills, expertise and resources to notify and protect community members more effectively. The comprehensive platform also helps these key stakeholders stay in the know about what’s happening, as well as what actions to take before, during and after a crisis. When these key stakeholders have the best tools to implement their plans, local government officials will have the information to build trust and comfort everyone in their community.
Kathleen Ohlson is Rave Mobile Safety’s Content Marketing Manager, writing about public safety and K–12 topics. When she’s not researching or banging away at her keyboard, Kathleen enjoys going to concerts and “playing” general manager for her favorite teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins.
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