SES building in Wollongong has a bright orange and white tile facade

Community safety

Yesterday I went to rural New South Wales with a colleague to deliver a workshop. We discussed behavioural science concepts and a framework to eliminate risky behaviour during emergencies.

Some people make poor decisions in emergencies because they suffer from overconfidence about their ability to get out of trouble, or they may revert to their default bias, by taking their usual route home even if it presents a danger.

At the same time, under stressful situations, people’s risk preferences may be altered, as they experience have an elevated sense of threat over the people they care about. In these situtions, individuals will seek to get home to their loved ones as soon as possible, or they may take risks to arrive at work on time or to meet some other commitment. So they miss warnings to stay away from specific areas.

People’s prepardness for emergencies can be improved with simple behavioural prompts, drawing on behavioural science. This might include getting communities to practice a backup plan for getting home (or finding shelter) during an emergency, or to coordinate for neighbours, teachers or colleagues to help take care of family and other responsibilities.

At the workshop, we were treated to a great crowd of experts, who had good ideas and passion to address the issue of community safety.

Here’s some photos from the day. More on the outcomes soon!

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