Humanitarian Early Warning System

The goal of the Humanitarian Early Warning System is “to bring together and make accessible in a simple manner the most credible early warning information available at the global level from multiple specialized institutions.” Basically, it is a early warning system for all natural hazards. It is developed and maintained by the UN World Food Programme,  HEWS has services dedicated to floods, seismic (earthquakes), storms, locust, volcanoes and weather.  This tool is user friendly, and a great example of Geographic Informational System (GIS).

I think a lot of other early warning systems while I was quickly researching focused on everything included in HEWS but the locust. The locust took me by surprise, although it does makes sense in the context of Africa. The website says its 70% dynamically updated with real-time information, which still leaves 30%. This is obviously a significant number that leaves stakeholders in question of the data. I think this is a better system for NGOs and multilateral organizations that focus on disaster management, rather than the actual targeted citizens affected by the disaster because I think people usually get their information fro news sources or some may not have access to the internet to check this system.

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2 responses to “Humanitarian Early Warning System

  • jnseng

    I think it’s a great idea to include locusts in the warning system. Again, considering that these systems are web-based, the target population will have difficulty accessing this information. The system benefits NGOs and outside media, but could radio broadcasts or tv announcements be made when an early warning needs to get out in the hopes of notifying as much of the target population as possible? A low budget could be the reason for why 30% of the website is not dynamically updated.

  • jtriplet

    This is a really fascinating website that provides some really interesting information. Beyond that, I am not sure how helpful it will be to people on an individual level in the developing world. For all of the reasons many ICTs struggle (lack of electricity, cell service, internet access), this website should not be advertised as an early warning system. Instead, it should be offered as an informational tool so that people around the world can know what is happening with various geological and atmospheric processes throughout the world. But for people on the ground in the thick of these natural hazards, even if they have access to electricity, a computer, and the internet, it is highly doubtful that they will spend all day monitoring this website to see natural hazard developments. A more practical solution would be for governments to recognise that investing in early warning systems (such as radio broadcasts and sirens) and disaster education will pay off in the long term. When a disaster strikes, a country that has spent some money on warning systems and education will likely face less economic damage than a country that has made no such preparations. All the same, this website is interesting, informative, and illuminates problems happening on the other side of the world that most people are not aware of.

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