EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Understanding public’s preferences for information provided on multi-hazard warning platforms

Irina Dallo1, Michael Stauffacher2, and Michèle Marti3
Irina Dallo et al.
  • 1ETH Zurich, Swiss Seismological Service and D-USYS TdLab, Zurich, Switzerland (
  • 2ETH Zurich, D-USYS TdLab, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3ETH Zurich, Swiss Seismological Service, Zurich, Switzerland

Triggered by the technical progress that allows combining information about different natural and artificial hazards, numerous multi-hazard platforms were established over the last years. Despite their increasing use to inform and warn the public, surprisingly, no research has been conducted evaluating their usefulness and effectiveness. This study contributes to fill in this research gap by assessing the public’s preferences, needs, and ability to handle information and warnings presented in a multi-hazard environment.

To this end, we conducted a representative online survey with 810 Swiss Germans. In the framework of a conjoint choice experiment, different scenarios were tested reflecting the diversity of elements used in multi-hazard platforms for information and warning purposes. In particular, we varied the map format the hazard classification as well as visual and textual information. The scenarios were randomly displayed as pairs to the respondents, asking them to first rate the scenarios separately and then to choose which of the two they would prefer. By observing the preferences with regard to the scenarios presented, it was possible to examine the relevance of multiple attributes and their characteristics to individual choices.

Regarding the representation of multiple hazards, first results indicate participants’ preferences for a specific map format, hazard classifications, and the display of textual information. For example, a single map including all hazards is preferred over a set of individual maps depicting the same information. This type of representation additionally has a stronger effect on participants’ motivation to seek for further information and to take (precautionary) action. The classification of hazard information into five categories is preferred over a classification with four or three categories respectively. And a list with additional textual information below the map is highly appreciated compared to a set of pictograms. Furthermore, high levels of trust and high levels of risk perception lead in general to a more favorable rating of the information presented. Regarding the content of messages for earthquakes or thunderstorms, participants appreciated the embedding of a sharing function. Such a function allows them to immediately spread the hazard information or warning among their families and friends. There is no preference between earthquake messages with behavioural recommendations in form of pictograms or those with textual recommendations. In comparison, warning messages for thunderstorms were significantly better rated when the behavioural recommendations were in text format.

To conclude, results indicate that the design of multi-hazard platforms strongly affects the public’s ability to handle the information and the warnings presented. Therefore, in parallel of the continuous improvement of scientific-technical products, social scientists should systematically examine the communication and perception of these products in order to achieve the desired effects.    


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821115.

How to cite: Dallo, I., Stauffacher, M., and Marti, M.: Understanding public’s preferences for information provided on multi-hazard warning platforms, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-1420,, 2019


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