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AI for Good Global Summit

Multi-hazard Early Warning System

Early-warning messages about impending hazards that could or may cause disasters must reach all citizens including emergency response organizations, communities-at-risk, public safety organization, and others. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are an important and integral component of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS), that manage and deliver alerting messages to those in affected areas and wider at national or international level which allows them to take action to mitigate the impacts of the hazard.

MHEWS has the ability to address several hazards and/or impacts of similar or different type in situations where hazardous events may occur alone, simultaneously, cascading or cumulatively over time, and taking into account the potential interrelated effects.

To be effective, a multi-hazard early warning systems should include the participation of different stakeholders and actively involve the people and communities at risk, in order to ensure that the system has an enabling environment, which incorporates the appropriate technology, regulatory and legal frameworks, adequate operational capacities, as well as to clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all participating agencies including communities. ICT accessibility is important in developing MHEWS. Vulnerable groups including persons with disabilities, older adults, people in marginal or remote areas without access or connectivity, women and girls, individuals with low literacy levels, indigenous peoples, migrants, are often in a higher risk during the disaster, thus their needs should be taken into careful consideration when disseminating the alerts through mixed channels.

It is essential to raise awareness about the importance of risk knowledge, facilitate public education, disseminate messages and warnings efficiently and ensure that there is a constant state of preparedness and that early action is enabled.

One-third of the world's people, mainly in the least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems. In March 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced Early Warnings for All (EW4A) Initi​ativ​e​, that the United Nations will spearhead new action to ensure every person on earth is protected by an early warning system within five years. With the newly defined action plan at COP27, ITU took the lead on the MHEWS pillar on 'Warning Dissemination and Communication", highlighting the use of multichannel dissemination alerting including "implementation of geo-located mobile early warning services using cell-broadcast and/or location-based SMS". The pillar will also focus on "promoting a regulatory approach, based on the model adopted by several countries including the EU, which has mandated the use of geo-located alerts using mobile networks" and engaging the private sector to implement mobile EWS systems.

Using mobile networks and services for more efficient Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems



Common Alerting Protocol

ITU promotes the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)​ as an important component of a MHEWS since it is a simple but general format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of ICT networks, allowing a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, thus increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning task. CAP enables authorities to deliver early warnings and alerts to all people and communities at risk, and up to global scale through the use of different technologies.

Impact on the ground

Zambia Early Warning Systems

Two Early Warning Systems have been implemented in Mbeta Island and Kasaya Village to warn communities when the level of Machile River and Zambezi River is raising. Read more


Uganda Early Warning Systems

The pilot project on establishing Early Warning Systems was completed in Uganda. This project aimed at warning residents of Butaleja District in Eastern Uganda when water levels from the River Manafwa were raising. The first flood warning system was installed on 22 September 2014, on the Namulo Bridge in Butaleja District. Read more