Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Response: Why many don't go to evacuation centers - Reason #1

One Reason - try interpreting the flood area map 

Each time we face a complex emergency here in New York, you can see improvements in pre-planning, coordination and response readiness.  That's a good thing.

Broadcast media are constantly reporting updates and directions.  And New Yorkers are tuned in. 
But for detailed information you're referred to official sources: 

I'm going to focus on the critical information that is widely distributed in the leading websites:  NYC OEM, MTA , NYCDOHMH, and others. 
You can be the judge of how easy to read and use these critical sources are: 

In 2007  we published the findings of a study we did using intercept interviews in Harlem, showing people the then current evacuation map GIS Maps to Communicate Emergency Preparedness: How Useable Are They for Inner City Residents? ( Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management)

The vast majority of residents (83%) who hadn't completed High School ( nearly 50% of Harlem residents) could not use the map to determine if they lived in a Flood Area, nor could they find where the closest Evacuation Center was. 

Any ideas on how to make it much easier for New Yorkers to find out if they're in a flood zone? 

Any ideas on improving on the current maps? 


  1. Interesting Map. I'm not sure what information accompanied it, but again, why are they not using a map that looks more like the MTA Subway Map? Even if someone were going to evacuate their home, it is not clear how they would get to any of the emergency centers. - Naomi G.

  2. My roommate wanted to find the map (after hearing about it on the news) to make sure her daughter doesn't live in zone A. She wasn't able to find the map by herself ( confusing!!). So, I found the map (although it is different than the one above -- with green, orange, and yellow colors) and address locator for her. After seeing it, she said the map was very clear. But, on the news when they showed the map, the orange and yellow colors were not very distinguishable... In regards to your later post about the address locator functionality, I don't know if she used that to find the zone or not.