Early warning system

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Early warning is a major element of disaster risk reduction. It prevents loss of life and reduces the economic and material impact of disasters. To be effective, early warning systems need to actively involve the communities at risk, facilitate public education and awareness of risks, effectively disseminate messages and warnings and ensure there is constant state of preparedness.[1] A complete and effective early warning system is more than about supporting the prediction of catastrophic environment events, it supports four main functions, spanning a knowledge of the risks faced through to preparedness to act on early warning. These four functions are risk analysis,[disambiguation needed] monitoring and warning, dissemination and communication, and a response capability.[2] Risk analysis involves systematically collecting data and undertaking risk assessments of predefined hazards and vulnerabilities. Monitoring and warning defines which are the relevant parameters to be monitored, the scientific basis for making forecasts and how accurate and timely warnings can be generated. Dissemination and communication concerns communicating the risk information and early warnings to reach all of those at risk in a way that is clear, understandable and useable. Response capability concerns building national and community response plan, testing the plan and leveraging local capacities and promoting preparation and readiness to react to warnings.

An early warning system, or specifically a functional early warning system can be implemented as a chain of information communication systems and comprises sensors, event detection, decision support, and message broker subsystems, in a given order, working in conjunction, forecasting and signalling disturbances adversely affecting the stability of the physical world; and giving sufficient time for the response system to prepare resources and response actions to minimize the impact on the stability of the physical world.[3]

An early warning system is more than a warning system; where a warning system is namely the technique linked to the broker subsystem for communicating the warning to the intended recipients for response actions or inactions.

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004, there has been a surge of interest in developing early warning systems to cater to the needs of all countries to detect natural hazards.[4][5] However, early warning systems can be used to detect a wide range of events, not just natural disasters, i.e., vehicle collisions, missile launches, disease outbreaks, etc. See warning system for a wider list of applications that can be also be supported by early warning systems.


  1. ^ Wiltshire, Alison (2006). Developing Early Warning Systems: A Checklist (PDF). Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Early Warning EWC III, Bonn (Germany),. 
  2. ^ "Basics of early warning". Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  3. ^ Waidyanatha, Nuwan (2010). "Towards a typology of integrated functional early warning systems". International Journal of Critical Infrastructures. No 1 6: 31–51. doi:10.1504/ijcis.2010.029575. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Basher, Reid (15 August 2006). "Global early warning systems for natural hazards: systematic and people-centered". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsta.2006.1819. 
  5. ^ "Japan provides early warning example". UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. 15 Mar 2015.