Disaster Research Unit (DRU)
WEXICOM III is a research project funded within the Hans-Ertel-Center for Weather Research which is conducted in collaboration between different research institutes and work groups of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development. In an interdisciplinary approach combining meteorology, social sciences and psychology the project contributes to an optimal use of weather forecast, with focus on severe weather and warnings. The ultimate goal is to facilitate a transparent and effective communication of risks and uncertainties for individual user groups.
The sub-project with which the DRU is specifically tasked (WP 4) identifies and evaluates criteria for perception, for assessment, and for utility of weather risks and warnings taking into account diverging interests, needs, and media habits within a heterogeneous population.
Social circumstances such as education, age, sex, income, health, or family background do not only affect human behaviour, in fact, they already form people's perceptions of and their response to weather related hazards. Along side this reality, people are additionally exposed to dangers in differing degrees as a result of social and spatial factors. People are likewise equipped with and make use of differing levels of preparedness, opportunities, and strategies to protect themselves from such dangers. The sub-project of the DRU is investigating how warnings could be directed to these particular living conditions in order to provide with information to the people who need it, as well as make them aware of the practical and realisiable opportunities for action which are especially important to them. The core of the project is formed by literature study, qualitative narrative interviews with the representatives of government agencies and organisations with tasked with safety and security, as well as a representative polling of the citizens of Berlin. The goal thereby is to develop a theoretical model and and generate concrete recommendations regarding the receiver-specific communication of warnings.