CSaP launches first Policy Challenges briefing on "Emergency Behaviours"

10 April 2014


The Policy Challenges briefing on 'Behavioural Insights into Emergency Planning and Response' helps policy makers gain a better understanding of the way people behave in emergency situations, and thereby better prepare for a national emergency.

Announced today at our 2014 annual conference on evidence, networks and policy, this is the first briefing from the centre’s Policy Challenges initiative, which launched in October last year.

The Policy Challenges Briefings have a specific remit: to encapsulate the insights provided by an interdisciplinary group of researchers on some of the policy problems that senior decision makers face.

Plan what you can

From emergency grab bags at supermarkets to special community days to help people prepare for an emergency, the Policy Challenge has found that it is essential to build planning into everyday life.

‘Help those who are already interested in community resilience to become better connected into their local communities, and introduce individuals that are already well connected in their communities to emergency planning and response.’

Design for delivery

Successful emergency communications must leverage existing, trusted communication networks. It is also critical to rapidly identify, monitor and respond to sources of mass information, and the ways in which people are responding to them.

‘In an emergency, people usually seek information; whom they turn to depends on whom they trust and have access to. Often, they seek to corroborate official information, usually through their social networks (actual and virtual).’

Authorities, intermediaries and preparedness all have an impact

The brief identifies three key insights:

  • Local, trusted intermediaries are key;
  • People don't only respond to the emergencies themselves, but to the behaviours of the emergency services, government and the messages about the emergency;
  • Emergency preparedness must be made part of everyday life.
CSaP convened leading experts, scientists and policy makers

This Challenge brought together GO Science, the Cabinet Office, the Home Office, and Community Resilience UK, with academics from a range of disciplines including architecture, behavioural science, economics, education, engineering, medicine, public health and security studies.

Researchers from King's College London, UCL, and the universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, East London, and Greenwich, collaborated over a series of three workshops to define aspects of emergency planning and response that were considered to be under-represented in current planning.

The 24 policy makers and academics involved have defined a number of measures that could be incorporated into policy to help manage future emergencies.

Part of the Policy Challenges programme

The first Policy Challenges briefing addresses high-priority public policy issues identified by our Policy Fellows, and provides senior decision makers with fresh insights, and practical recommendations.

Funded by The Economic and Social Research Council, the Policy Challenges programme is currently working on climate resilience in the built environment and ageing and public health. Two new Policy Challenges on big data and open innovation are planned to start in 2014.

Banner image from US Agency for International Development via CC4.0