The project Public Empowerment Policies for Crisis Management (PEP) addressed future directions to enhance public resilience and bring a European ‘enabled public’ closer.
Previously, there has been over-much focus on the activities of response organisations and not enough on the perspective of citizens, individuals, groups and communities. To be more effective, crisis management should be seen as coproduced with citizens, applying public empowerment policies which also utilise human technology.
The aim of the PEP project (2012-2014) was to investigate how the crisis response abilities of the public can be enhanced and how authorities can successfully involve citizens in crisis preparedness and response. Although the value of a community approach is seen by experts and policymakers, the picture of the actual implementation of a community approach in crisis management is very diverse and in need of further encouragement. Preparedness campaigns that are initiated as top-down activities are not effective. Instead, best practices connect with citizen initiatives. Moreover, on the local level, inclusion of local initiatives is seldom structured.
The project clarifies best practices and shows guidelines in the form of an accessible tool, the ‘Crisis communication WIKI for professionals’ : http://www.crisiscommunication.fi/wiki/Main_Page
The download version with the core content, called the Guide ‘Public Empowerment for Crisis Management’ can be found here: http://www.crisiscommunication.fi/pep/research/guides
It is recommended for emergency response organizations. The latter web link also points to project reports, publications and the theme issue of the journal Human Technology. Dialogue about the research results was initiated via the International Disaster and Risk Conferences in Davos.
The project PEP also made policy recommendations. The ‘Roadmap public empowerment policies for crisis management’ advocates clear directions for further action of public empowerment policies for policymakers of municipalities, NGOs and (inter-) national governmental organizations: http://www.crisiscommunication.fi/pep/roadmap-issue/roadmap
Without structural inclusion of the public in resilience enhancing activities, the increased expectations of citizens of two-way communication will not be met. Public empowerment and collaboration of authorities with publics in the security area contribute to relationships of trust, however they are also a ‘sine qua non’, an essential condition the member states can’t do without.
The website www.projectPEP.eu offers all of the materials of the project and contact information of the researchers involved: Risk and Crisis Research Center of Mid Sweden University, Agora Center of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, Global Risk Forum in Davos Switzerland, Inconnect in the Netherlands, Emergency Services College in Finland.