User Acceptance of Community Emergency Alert Technology: Motivations and Barriers

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Wu, Fei
Preece, Jennifer J
Qu, Yan
The purpose of the study is to investigate the factors that motivate the acceptance of emergency alert technologies that are designated for the community's emergency preparedness and response. By investigating the acceptance case of UMD Alerts at the University of Maryland, I explore three related questions through a three-phase, mixed-methods research design: First, what are the key factors that influence the acceptance and use of emergency alert technology? Second, how are different motivational factors related to the intention to use emergency alert technology? Third, what mechanisms may be integrated into system design and implementation to motivate user acceptance? I identify key motivational factors by reviewing the literature and conducting in-depth interviews. Then, I conduct a survey to examine the relationships between the motivational factors and the intention or behavior of acceptance. Finally, I test the motivational effects of the "subjective norm" - one of the predominant factors derived from the interview study and the survey - in a field experiment. Integrating the findings from these three phases, this research shows that user acceptance of emergency alert technology is affected by a variety of factors that the general technology acceptance model (TAM) fails to take into account. In brief, users may be more motivated to accept such technologies if 1) the meaningful use of the technology can be observed in everyday life; 2) the technology system behavior can be easily controlled; and 3) the diffusion of the technology is promoted through the users' social networks and is compatible with the culture of the user community. This dissertation work demonstrates a "deepening" effort in applying TAM to response technology acceptance and establishes a foundation for challenging new lines of research that more closely examine the motivations and barriers to technology acceptance in sociotechnical contexts.