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

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In 1985, the Michoacán earthquake hit Mexico City, leaving an estimated 10,000 dead and 30,000 people injured. The disaster raised awareness of earthquake risk and generated interest in the feasibility of earthquake early warning. The primary seismic source for earthquakes that affect Mexico City is the Guerrero Fault along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Given the time it takes seismic waves to reach Mexico City from the coast, it is possible to provide early warnings that allow people a minute or more to move to a safer area in a building or in some cases to evacuate.

Operated by CIRES, the Seismic Alert System of Mexico City was established in 1991, and a similar system (SASO) was set up in Oaxaca in 2003. These two systems are now part of the Mexican Federal Government’s Seismic Early Warning System (SASMEX). Seventy-six seismic monitoring stations are now located along the Guerrero Fault, and warnings are provided to a number of important cities.

SASMEX issues two types of warning: “public” or emergency warnings for the risk of high-intensity movements and “preventive” or alert messages for moderate intensity-movements. Since its creation, SASMEX has issued 34 emergency warnings and 72 alert messages. For example, in 1995, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake occurred 300 km away from Mexico City. An emergency warning was issued 72 seconds before the seismic waves shook the city, facilitating the partial evacuation of public buildings, schools, residential buildings and public transport systems. An estimated 2 million people were reached by the warning and acted upon it.
alerts are dispatched through cell broadcasting, which is immune to network congestion, while messages to certain groups are sent via SMS. The alerts are sent in three local languages and can be received by both smartphones and basic handsets, or by an alarm device with a lamp and siren for public spaces (GSMA, 2013

GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association). 2013,Mobile Network Public Warning Systems and the Rise of Cell-Broadcast, January 2013. London.. .
; Purasinghe, 2014

Purasinghe, Harsha. 2014,DEWN - Disaster & Emergency Warning Network, GSM Based Disaster Alerting. University of Moratuwa.. .
Mobile phones are increasingly being used to disseminate weather and climate forecasts to farmers, to provide information on market prices, to access markets and even to take out insurance.4 These changes are radical given that the communication of early warning information to remote, rural hazard-exposed communities was described as a major challenge as recently as 2006.5
These technological leaps have transformed and will continue to transform the landscape of early warning systems. New technologies and
enhanced trans-boundary cooperation for hazard monitoring, forecasting and early warning are continuing to emerge (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.
). Moreover, successful technologies in one context have sometimes been brought to market for broader applications, for example in flood early warning systems (Box 8.4). The telemetric monitoring system at the Enguri Dam in Georgia served as a prototype to develop an early warning system for dam failure (GAR 13 paperChelidze, 2013

GAR13 Reference Chelidze, T. 2013,Real Time Telemetric Monitoring/Early Warning System of Large Dams, Input Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
). In Italy, flood monitoring in Umbria formed the basis for the development of an integrated early warning system for floods and landslides (GAR 13 paperMolinari et al., 2013

GAR13 Reference Molinari, Daniela, Francesco Ballio, Nicola Berni and Claudia Pandolfo. 2013,Towards more effective Early Warning Systems: The Italian Experience, Input Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
Crowdsourcing platforms and initiatives such as OpenStreetMap and Ushahidi facilitated the engagement of thousands of volunteers and experts during the 2010 Chile and Haiti earthquakes and the floods in Pakistan; these innovations are also challenging conventional assumptions about early warning systems (Keim and Noji, 2011

Keim, Mark E. and Eric Noji. 2011,Emergent use of social media: a new age of opportunity for disaster resilience, American Journal of Disaster Medicine, Vol. 6, No. 1 (January/February): 47-54.. .
). When the concept was first proposed in 1997, early warning systems were conceived as vertically integrated chains where
Box 8.3 Earthquake early warning in Mexico
(Sources: Cuéllar et al., 2010

Cuéllar, Armando, Samuel Maldonado, and J.M. Espinoza Aranda. 2010,Sistema de Alerta Sísmica para la Ciudad de México, Revista Digital Universitaria, Vol. 11, No. 1, ISSN: 1067-6079.. .
; Singh and Pérez-Campos, no date.
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