The RWTH Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management Conducts Research on Crisis Communication

Copyright: © Peter Winandy

At 11:00am on December 8, 2022, the federal, state and local governments tested their warning systems in a joint exercise. In addition to radio, television and warning apps, cell broadcast was used for the first time. A cell broadcast message was sent to all cell phones in a radio cell, allowing millions of phone users to be reached within seconds.



Holger Schüttrumpf



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Crisis communication is also one of the topics that the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management at RWTH Aachen University is focusing on. Under the direction of Professor Holger Schüttrumpf, the "HoWas2021" project is conducting an interdisciplinary investigation into the possibilities and weaknesses of crisis communication. This is largely in response to the floods that took place in July 2021.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project. The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) as well as scientists from the Free University of Berlin, the University of Potsdam, the University of Siegen and the German University of Administrative Sciences are involved. In addition to hydrometeorological data that was collected during the flood, the research work is based on interviews with parties involved in flood management, disaster control and with the general public.

Initial results show potential for improvement in various areas, including the need to prepare for crises of various kinds. "The flooding in July 2021 highlighted the need for research and improvement in the area of crisis communication. The warning day is an attempt to raise awareness among the population and at the same time test warning communication tools. In this way, we can prepare for future events, avoid damage in an emergency and save lives," says Schüttrumpf.


RWTH professors Holger Schüttrumpf (on the right) from the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management and Frank Lehmkuhl from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology study the destruction in the Ahr Valley after the 2021 flooding.