Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015
Making development sustainable: The future of disaster risk management

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Part II - Chapter 8
human capacity and are still dependent on international assistance to finance and maintain their systems, in particular when it comes to upgrading the equipment to monitor hazards and transmit warnings (GAR 13 paperWMO, 2014a

GAR13 Reference WMO (World Meteorological Organization). 2014a,Synthesis of the Status and Trends With the Development of Early Warning Systems, Background Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
Early warning reframed
Since the Third International Conference on Early WarningSystems,rapidchangesininformationand communications technology have shaken many of the assumptions that had framed the development of early warning systems up to that point.
The growing sophistication of hydro-meteorological monitoring and forecasting has greatly increased the probability of being able to provide accurateforewarningsoftropicalcyclones,storms, floods, droughts, tsunamis and other hazards. The growing availability of high-resolution satellite data, coupled with an exponential increase in computing power and the development of predictive models, has transformed hazard-warning capabilities since the adoption of the HFA. These technological advances have been supported by enhanced international cooperation (Box 8.2). At the same time, meteorological information in particular has become increasingly pervasive through global media and the Internet. There is less and less dependence on official channels for hazard forecasts, although this has created new issues around the accuracy of warning information, particularly when conflicting information is available from apparently credible sources.
A second and even more disruptive change is associated with exponentially increasing global connectivity through access to the Internet, social media and particularly through mobile phones. Globally, mobile telephone penetration rates have reached 96 per cent. There is now almost one mobile phone per person on the planet, with subscription rates of almost 90 per cent even in low-income countries (ITU, 2013

International Telecommunications Union. 2013,The World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures, February 2013. Geneva.. .
). In subSaharan Africa, for example, the penetration rate of mobile phones was around 10 per cent at the beginning of the HFA. It now stands at almost 80 per cent (Deloitte, 2012

Deloitte and GSMA. 2012,Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory 2012, Available from http:// uploads/2012/03/SSA_FullReport_v6.1_clean. pdf.. .
This dramatically increases the potential to disseminate timely warnings directly to those at risk and also opens the door to peer-to-peer warning, even across national boundaries (Gow and Waidyanatha, 2011

Gow, Gordon and Nuwan Waidyanatha. 2011,Mobile Phones and the Challenge of Sustainable Early Warning Systems: Reflections on HazInfo Sri Lanka and opportunities for future research, In Mobile Communication: Dimensions of Social Policy, James E. Katz, ed.: 63-74. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.. .
). To the extent that mobile phone warnings facilitate timely preparedness by households and businesses, they contribute to reducing risks and avoiding loss of life. For example, earthquake early warnings are now also issued via mobile networks in Mexico (Box 8.3) and in Japan.
In Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Disaster Management Centre launched the Disaster and Emergency Warning Network (DEWN; Purasinghe, 2014

Purasinghe, Harsha. 2014,DEWN - Disaster & Emergency Warning Network, GSM Based Disaster Alerting. University of Moratuwa.. .
). After a successful trial period, the system became operational in January 2009. Messages are sent to emergency personnel, who then verify the information and disseminate public alerts. Mass
Box 8.2 The Global Data-Processing and Forecasting System (GDPFS)
The Global Data-Processing and Forecasting System (GDPFS) produces and disseminates weather and climate analyses and predictions to enable National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) to provide high-quality meteorological forecasts, warnings and other information services related to weather, environmental quality and climate on a 24/7 basis. Its three-level system—World Meteorological Centres (WMCs), Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs; including Regional Climate Centres [RCCs]), and National Meteorological Centres (NMCs)—support NMHSs and their early warning capacities. The improved accuracy and lead time of predictions of high-impact weather events have made a major contribution to early warning.
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