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Identifying gaps in early warning mechanisms and evacuation procedures for tsunamis in Sri Lanka, with a special focus on the use of social media

Ravindu Udayantha Jayasekara (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka)
Gaindu Saranga Jayathilaka (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka)
Chandana Siriwardana (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka)
Dilanthi Amaratunga (University of Huddersfield Huddersfield United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland)
Richard Haigh (School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield Huddersfield United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland)
Chaminda Bandara (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Peradeniya Kandy, central, Sri Lanka)
Ranjith Dissanayake (Civil Engineering, University of Peradeniya Kandy, central, Sri Lanka)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 27 September 2021

Issue publication date: 6 January 2023

305

Abstract

Purpose

The current National Early Warning System for Sri Lanka (NEWS: SL) was established after the devastations of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Although early warning (EW) systems and evacuation procedures are in place, several areas which need improvements have been emphasized in recent studies carried out in the country. Therefore, this paper aims to outline the gaps in existing EW and EP related to tsunami and other coastal hazards with a special focus on the use of social media for disaster communication based on age groups.

Design/methodology/approach

This study has drawn on a review of past studies carried out by the same research team to identify the scope of the study. In addition to that, a conceptual framework was developed for the use of social media in the event of a disaster. Based on this conceptual framework, an online questionnaire was administered to identify the current status of the use of social media in Sri Lanka during a disaster situation. In total, 408 responses were collected and analyzed using the binary logistic regression method to evaluate the variation of different predictors associated with the use of social media for disaster communication.

Findings

Findings of the study revealed that the use of social media for disaster communication depends on the previous experience of users and their age. The gender of users does not affect the use of social media for disaster communication. Therefore, the accuracy and timeliness of disaster information distributed via social media should be improved further to enhance the use of social media for disaster communication. Moreover, the findings have highlighted unaddressed issues in areas such as governance; communication of technical agencies; evacuation and shelters; and response of the community.

Originality/value

This paper has identified key areas that need attention in the process of enhancing the use of social media for disaster communication. More use of technological platforms such as social media for receiving disaster-related information can address issues such as bottlenecks in communication, poor awareness and lack of last-mile dissemination. Furthermore, this paper has proposed recommendations for addressing the identified gaps in the overall EW mechanisms and EP pertaining to tsunamis and other coastal hazards to enhance the coastal disaster resilience in Sri Lanka.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors here gratefully acknowledge Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Higher Education Grant, Capacity Building in Asia for Resilience EducaTion (CABARET) for providing funds and expertise in carrying out this research study. The authors would also like to acknowledge the members of the research team who contributed to collect the data.

Citation

Jayasekara, R.U., Jayathilaka, G.S., Siriwardana, C., Amaratunga, D., Haigh, R., Bandara, C. and Dissanayake, R. (2023), "Identifying gaps in early warning mechanisms and evacuation procedures for tsunamis in Sri Lanka, with a special focus on the use of social media", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-02-2021-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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