These Risk Communication essays were completed in one of Mount Royal University’s public relations program’s fourth-year classes focusing on contemporary risk and crisis communication case studies (currently known as PUBR 4860). The papers were available for voluntary review by the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) based on a partnership with the PR department, which allows the top papers to be presented before CEMA’s professionals.
A Critical Analysis of The City of Calgary’s use of Social Media in the Climate Emergency Declaration by Rae Walls (FIRST PLACE)
Social media is a salient tactic in climate change communications. It has been widely studied to examine the best practices when used in climate risk communication and climate action generation in recent years. A case study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s Effectiveness Awards for their The People’s Seat campaign, which is another climate change campaign provides insight into possible strategies to facilitate civic action. The City of Calgary’s Climate Emergency Declaration gives way to the possibility of an increase in civic acceptance of the crisis, along with an increase in civic action around climate initiatives. A week after the declaration, the critical analysis of how the city can leverage social media as a tactic to communicate risks and generate action around climate change leads to a recommendation for the city’s next steps.
Evolving Emergency Response Technology and its Impact: AHS consolidates four EMS dispatch services by Gabriel Hartzler (SECOND PLACE)
The paper analyzes Alberta Health Services (AHS) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) consolidation of four municipally run dispatch centres. The article focuses on the effective risk communication strategies employed by AHS EMS and the strategies that were not effective. The article utilizes work from Boholm (2019), Cannon (2013), Wray et al. (2006), and Covello et al. (1989) to analyze the risk communication methods used by AHS. The articles provide strong recommendations that could have improved AHS’s overall risk communication during the six-month consolidation period, such as improving stakeholder engagement by acknowledging their needs and concerns, improving public trust, and being truthful and honest with interest groups.
The City of Calgary’s Emergency Communication with Vulnerable Populations Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic by Lily Harris (THIRD PLACE)
This paper argues that although the City of Calgary had a thorough approach to successfully conveying its public health agenda, some improvements could have been made to better target supports for vulnerable populations. The main argument proposed is that the City of Calgary needs to improve its risk communication strategies to better engage with, cater to, and support its most unprotected citizens. Specific recommendations for more targeted and effective communication in the future include: maintaining consistent key messaging, disseminating information through in-person methods and implementing a social and digital inclusion strategy built out prior to an emergency.
World Health Organization (WHO): The Importance of Truth and Transparency by Jelmer Derksen (FOURTH PLACE)
The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was a period of rapid change and uncertainty. The World Health Organization (WHO) had to learn about this virus, while communicating risks to the public. The organization’s risk communication efforts were effective; however, more trust could have been created by persuading people to follow COVID-19 prevention measures. This discussion examines how improving risk communications would have increased adherence and effectiveness of the WHO’s COVID-19 preventative measures by gaining more trust and utilizing two-way, transparent communications.
A Comparative Analysis of Canada and Taiwan: A Human- Versus Techno-Driven Approach to the Pandemic by Leah Pottinger (FIFTH PLACE)
As an island country situated near China, Taiwan learned from the country’s unexpected experience with the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic. When SARS spread into the country, Taiwan was underprepared and became the centre of a SARS outbreak. From this experience they learned an important lesson: a techno-driven response strategy allowed Taiwan to immediately react to an unknown virus in China at the end of 2019. Canada’s human-driven approach led to a disorganized crisis response strategy between the different provinces. The findings indicate that an immediate techno-driven approach to crisis communication during a pandemic will result in early containment and tracing (Wang et al., 2020), with the data collected contributing to a human-driven risk communication strategy which creates trust among Canadians and the government.