Developing a Profile-based Website for Disaster CommunitiesThis study will build capacity in the delivery of information about oil spills, tailored to the needs of disaster communities in the Gulf region.
BackgroundThe Risk Communications subteam is building a website that will organize and explain information in a manner tailored to the needs of specific users. It will automate personalized content and formats according to users’ priorities and preferences. The team developed priorities and preferences of different types of users by conducting in-person interviews with a range of potential users, such as people working in government and non-government organizations responsible for risk management, elected officials and their staff, business leaders, faith-based organizations, and other community leaders. The interviews explored who the key decisionmakers are, what their decision problems are, and what decision information they need and use.
Creating a State-of-the-Art Website that Feels PersonalThousands of people visit websites like Amazon.com each day, and each is welcomed into the site by a uniquely customized homepage. Why? The content is personalized so that visitors feel like the page is speaking directly to them. The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC) is using state-of-the-art techniques to design a website that is personalized for people interested in learning more about how to build community resilience in the face of a major oil spill. The result should be a website that is more relevant, more engaging, and ultimately more useful for diverse end users.
What is web content personalization?Instead of trying to appeal to a wide range of visitors with one generic home page, we can target different content to different types or groups of visitors. One visitor may be a community health professional who wants to learn more about health impacts of oil spills; they might be most interested in the findings of recent studies on depression or stress. A business owner, on the other hand, may be more concerned about government support during a disaster. A government employee responsible for hazard management planning might want to review community action plans from similar areas. Rather than requiring each visitor to take multiple steps to find the information they want, we can tailor information to meet their needs. Importantly, the tailoring can be done without fundamentally limiting the information that any user has access to.
How does content personalization work?We can map website content to individual visitors using data available to us about the visitor in two steps:
Step One: CharacterizingWe will use information we have already gathered from in-depth interviews with a range of potential users from the Gulf region. These are people from a range of backgrounds involved in making decisions related to building community resilience before and after an oil spill. From the interviews we have identified types of decision makers (e.g., government workers, business owners, leaders from community-based organizations) interested in different human dimensions of oil spills (e.g., health, economic, social impacts). We have also identified keywords that capture the topics of interest to decision makers (e.g., community development plan, environmental jobs, emergency fund, community events). We can combine this knowledge from the interviews with more specific information provided by each visitor to our website via an online registration form that requests basic personal information about their background (e.g., seafood industry worker) and special interests (e.g., health impacts on workers exposed to oil).
Step Two: RecommendingAt this stage, we assign weights to a set of keywords, based on users’ interests, to create user profiles. Then we use a recommender system to match user profiles with items to be recommended. The system relies on rules that affect the content presented to users when their profile satisfies the rule’s conditions.
What are the benefits of content personalization?
- Fast response: Visitors can find the information and tools they need quickly.
- Uniquely informative: Visitors will be more highly engaged and more likely to come back to the website and recommend it to others.
- Less distraction: Visitors won’t be frustrated with content that seems to have nothing to do with their interests.
Learn moreWeb Content Personalization: A State-of-the-Art Review (See Full Report)
Melissa Finucane, Andrew Parker, Vanessa Parks, and Rajeev Ramchand presented an overview of the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC) at the annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis in New Orleans last month. Read more »
CRGC director Melissa Finucane participated in the kick-off of a collaborative workshop series, “Regional priority setting for health, social, and economic disruption from spills.” The two-day event took place December 4-5 in Houma, Louisiana. Read more »
At this year’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) interviewed Dr. Melissa Finucane– Senior Social and Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Director of The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities- about CRGC’s latest research findings and progress assessing and addressing the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health, social, and economic wellbeing of people in the Gulf Coast region. Finucane speaks to CRGC’s research, outreach, and education initiatives, which are aimed at helping communities across the Gulf Coast to more effectively understand, withstand, and overcome the multiple stressors brought on by such disasters. Learn more>>
Accessibility to transparent, up to date data has proven to play a critical role in both individual- and community-level capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster events, such as a hurricanes— Something that was especially evident following Hurricane Katrina. Denice W. Ross, a Public Interest Technology Fellow at New America and a co-founder of the Obama administration’s Police Data Initiative, spent more than a decade in New Orleans building community capacity to use government data and is continuing to broaden her work in the “open data” space by aggregating high-value data sets that can aid communities impacted by disaster. Learn more>>
CRGC is pleased to announce the launch of its new and improved Resources page, now live on the Consortium’s website. CRGC offers an exciting range of resources tailored for academics, community leaders, fishing/seafood industry stakeholders, healthcare providers, and policymakers that span across an array topic areas.
Check out the latest edition of GoMRI’s eNews, which keeps researchers, students, community members, and other stakeholders working in the field current on emerging Gulf science and the people investigating the effects of oil spills on the environment and public health. This edition of eNews features, CRGC’s Student Spotlight of Nicholas Thomas, in the Project Activities section! Learn more »