Early warning systems and disaster risk information

Briefing papers
March 2015
Lindsey Jones and Elizabeth Carabine

This note provides information relevant to the agreement of target (vii) of the draft Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which reads: Ensure access to impact-based early warning and disaster risk information [to 90% of the people] by 2030 and its five variations.

Climate forecasting: Most countries now have early warning systems in place that make use of climate forecasts days, weeks and even months into the future and communicate warnings to relevant local stakeholders. These systems are based on state-of-the art climate models and are of particular use in preparing for climate extremes.

Mobile phone technology: With the spread of mobile phones and networks across the globe, this technology is now increasingly used to communicate warnings and coordinate preparation activities, particularly Short Message Service (SMS) alerts to disseminate mass messages. For example, on detection of the early signs of an earthquake development, Japanese agencies send out SMS alerts to all registered mobile phones in the country.

ICTs: The use of crowdsourced data is gaining traction as internet connectivity and the availability of ICTs such as mobile phones increase. Crowdsourcing was used extensively in the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, allowing local people, mapping experts and other stakeholders to communicate what they saw and heard on the ground and to produce information that humanitarian workers could use.

This note was produced as part of a series of briefings to give those without expert knowledge on DRR the key facts relating to the areas under negotiation at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). The conference was held in Sendai, Japan, 14-18 March 2015, the outcome of which was the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

Read more about ODI's engagement at the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.