Jeannette Sutton, Ph.D. 

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Current Research Projects

Tweeting What Matters: Information, Advisories, and Alerts Following the Boston Marathon Events
This is the third report by the HEROIC project team on the use of Twitter by official accounts responding to events in Boston during the week of April 15-19, 2013.  In our previous reports [Sutton et al.; Sutton et al.], we provided background on Twitter use during the bombing event, the initial findings related to allocation of attention by members of the public to official accounts, and the use of relational and conversational features that may have been included as part of posted tweets.  In this final report, we focus on the aspects of message content with special attention to public guidance to those placed on lockdown, discussing the role of Twitter as a redundant channel for risk communications.


Tweeting Boston: The Influence of Microstructure in Broadcasting Messages through Twitter

This is a second report by the HEROIC project team on the use of Twitter by official accounts responding to events in Boston during the week of April 15-19, 2013.  In our previous report, we provided background on Twitter use during the bombing event, as well as initial findings related to allocation of attention by members of the public to official accounts. In this report, we discuss the use of relational and conversational features that may have been included as part of each posted tweet – we call these features “microstructure” elements.  By looking at tweet microstructure, we can learn about when users share information with each other, and with whom they choose to share it.

Following the Bombing
During the week of April 15-19, 2013, two critical events turned the focus of the nation back to domestic terrorism after a nearly decade-long hiatus. On Monday, April 15, two improvised explosive devices went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three spectators and injuring more than 200 others. This initial event resulted in a week long investigation, the identification of two suspects, the killing of a police officer at MIT, and the lockdown of an entire city. As the nation watched broadcast news, social media served as an additional channel to relay and receive time and safety critical information. This research report will provide results from analyses on the uses of Twitter by official organizations over the course of the week.



Mapping Observations of the 2011 Thoku Tsunami into Enhanced, Time-dependent Warning Messages
by J. Shi, J. Sutton, M.D. Kohler, J-P Ampuero

Recent results are presented to illustrate how predictions of tsunami wave impact and tsunami warning messages can be improved by including information about multiple large-amplitude wave arrivals over longer durations and at refined spatial resolution. Following focus group research, revised tsunami messages were evaluated via online experiments with the public, to determine how revised message content, in contrast with the original message, affects message receiver understanding, believing, and personalizing, all of which are pre-decisional decision making activities.



Comprehensive Testing of Imminent Threat Public Messages for Mobile Devices
by Hamilton Bean, Brooke Liu, Stephanie Madden, Dennis Mileti, Jeannette Sutton, Michele Wood

This project sought to determine the optimized message contents of imminent threat wireless emergency alert (WEA) messages delivered over mobile communication devices. This report presents findings for the first WEA messages disseminated  about imminent  threats (i.e., first alert messages) from  two research  phases with  U.S. adults:  (1) eight experiments, seven focus groups and 50 think-out-loud interviews; and (2) a survey  of an actual “real world” severe flood in Boulder, Colorado. It also integrates findings from across study methods and provides actionable guidance and considerations for optimized message contents of imminent one-hour-to-impact threat alerts delivered over mobile communication devices.


Researchers awarded nearly $1 million to improve effectiveness of emergency alert text messaging

Jeannette Sutton, senior research associate, Trauma, Health and Hazards Center, joins a team of researchers from the Department of Homeland Security’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism that received a $952,004 contract to determine the most effective way to communicate imminent threats to the public via text messaging on mobile devices.


START researchers awarded nearly $1 million to improve effectiveness of emergency alert text messaging


Researchers from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) have been awarded nearly $1 million to determine the most effective way to communicate imminent threats to the public via text messaging on mobile devices.


Risk Perception and Communication

The interdisciplinary theme of Risk Perception and Communication is dedicated to advancing understanding of the dynamic relationships between public response, societal consequences, and risk and crisis communication in the event of a disaster. CREATE's research objectives in this theme are to formulate a better understanding of how the public perceives the risk associated with disaster events (both terror and non-terror), and assess the influence this has on their beliefs relative to these events, their notions of risk perceptions, and their behavioral decision-making, both in the immediate and in the long-term.
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