Effective stakeholder communication about infrastructure: a case study by Dan Slee

Anthony Haynes writes: Today I’m pleased to reblog a recent post from Dan Slee’s blog. I read the blog regularly and welcome the author’s eye for concrete examples of communication practice. A distinctive feature is his keenness to convey good practice. This post illustrates many examples of effective crisis communication by and to a variety of stakeholders. The case concerns risk from damage to a dam. My own company is named after an early example of an effective communicator on infrastructure, namely Frontinus — a water commissioner in ancient Rome — so I couldn’t help but be interested! Dan’s title for this post is LONG READ: I read 147 Facebook updates across seven pages to see how the Whaley Bridge dam crisis was communicated on Facebook.

Dan Slee

whaleyEarlier this year a dam burst near the Brazilian town of Belo Horizonte and within minutes 40 were dead and 300 missing buried under thick brown sludge.

In the UK, its been almost 100 years since loss of life from a dam burst from any of our  almost 3,000 dams.

In August 2019, it nearly happened.

Heavy rain at the Toddbrook Reservoir saw the dam overspill and the 170-year-old dam wall start to disintegrate.  There were fears it would lead to the wall collapsing and a million gallons of water flooding down onto the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge below.

An emergency operation kicked in with 1,000 people evacuated from the 6,500 population.

The plot was quite simple. Firstly, ump water out of the dam to ease the pressure on the damaged wall. Secondly, repair the damaged wall. So, fire crews crews pumped water out of the reservoir and the…

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