Translating Warnings into Action – How we can Improve Early Warning Systems to Protect Communities

Early warnings for hazards are essential for living safely and minimizing economic losses.  For many hazards, it is possible to give advance notice and accurate information to help communities prepare and respond.  However, issuance of the warning itself is not enough for a warning system to be effective, as the effectiveness of warnings is determined by the quality of the overall response.

Whatever our role in early warning systems, there are ways in which all stakeholders can work together to ensure early warning systems better protect people and their livelihoods. These include building long-term foundations and community trust, better risk knowledge, observations, data sharing, and forecasting systems, preparedness and response measures, and communications approaches such as impact-based warnings and the use of the Common Alerting Protocol to help give warnings wider and more consistent reach. Whatever is done will be more successful if we prioritise long-term, respectful relationships within the complex warning system.

This report was commissioned by the IFRC to assist in promoting global actions for improved early warning response.  The report was principally authored by Dr Andrew Tupper, with input from Dr Carina Fearnley and Professor Ilan Kelman, on behalf of the University College London Warning Research Centre, United Kingdom.

This Warnings Briefing Note series, supported by the Global Disaster Preparedness Center/IFRC and produced by UCL Warning Research Center, focuses on building warnings for multiple hazards. It covers state-of-the-art, key issues, examples, resources and recommendations to aid those working on policy and practice.

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