Detection, Monitoring, Analysis & Forecasting of Hazards and Possible Consequences

Detection, Monitoring, Analysis & Forecasting of Hazards and Possible Consequences

Multi-hazard monitoring and forecasting service with a sound scientific and technological basis

Warning services lie at the core of an early warning system. There must be a sound scientific basis to the system and reliable technology for (i) monitoring and detecting hazards in real time or near real time; and (ii) providing forecasts and warnings 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It must also be monitored and staffed by qualified people.

Continuous monitoring of hazard parameters and their precursors (when available for a particular hazard) is essential to generate accurate warnings in a timely fashion that allow sufficient time for the affected community or communities to enact their disaster management plans appropriate for that hazard. The systems used for detection and monitoring, which could be automated, should allow for strict quality control of the data under international standards when these are available. Warning services should have a multi-hazard perspective (e.g. heavy rainfall may not only trigger flooding but also landslides, the warning for which may come from a separate authority) and be coordinated whenever possible to gain the benefit of shared institutional, procedural and communication networks and capacities. Data, forecasts and warnings should be archived in a standardized way to support post-event analysis and improvements of the system over time.

Key Actors

Key actors: National and local disaster management agencies; scientific and technical agencies such as meteorological and hydrological organizations, health authorities, ocean observing organizations and geophysical agencies; universities and research institutes; private sector equipment suppliers; telecommunication authorities; security experts; military authorities; quality management experts; regional technical centres

The Checklist

1. Are there monitoring systems in place?

  • Monitoring network established that monitors hazards that impact the country
  • Measurement parameters and specifications documented for each relevant hazard
  • Technical equipment, suited to local conditions and circumstances, in place and personnel trained in its use and maintenance
  • Monitoring data received, processed and available in an interoperable format in real time or near real time
  • Monitoring data and metadata routinely curated with quality controls, archived and accessible for verification, research purposes and other applications
  • Monitoring hardware and software maintenance conducted routinely and costs and resources considered from the beginning to ensure optimal operation of the system over time
  • The system is able to combine and benefit from new and older technology allowing for exchange of data among countries with different technical capabilities

2. Are there forecasting and warning services in place?

  • Data analysis and processing, modelling, prediction and warning products generated based on accepted scientific and technical methodologies and disseminated within international standards and protocols
  • New data analysis and processing, modelling, prediction and warning products can be integrated easily in the system as science and technology evolve
  • Warning centres are operational at all times (24 hours/day, seven days/week) and staffed by trained personnel following appropriate national and international standards
  • Warning messages are clear, consistent and include risk and impact information and are designed with consideration for linking threat levels to emergency preparedness and response actions
  • Software and data analysis for the received data updated periodically and to high security standards
  • The state of the monitoring and data analysis systems continuously monitored for any data gaps, connection issues or processing issues
  • Warnings generated and disseminated in an efficient and timely manner for each type of hazard
  • Warning system(s) subjected to regular system-wide tests and exercises
  • Process established to verify that warnings have reached the principal stakeholders and people at risk
  • Mechanisms in place to inform people when the threat and its impacts have ended
  • Operational processes, including data quality and warning performance, are routinely monitored and evaluated
  • Fail-safe systems in place, such as power backup, equipment redundancy and on-call personnel systems
  • Strategies developed to build credibility and trust in warnings (e.g. understanding difference between forecasts and warnings)
  • False alarms minimized and improvements communicated to maintain trust in the warning system
  • Warning and forecast archival processes and systems in place

3. Are there institutional mechanisms in place?

  • Plans and documents for monitoring networks available and agreed upon with experts and relevant authorities
  • Standardized process, and roles and responsibilities of all organizations generating and issuing warnings established and mandated by legislation or other authoritative instrument (e.g. memorandum of understanding (MOU), standard operating procedures)
  • Agreements and interagency protocols established within country for exchange of monitoring systems data and baseline data needed for certain data products (e.g. bathymetric and topographic data for tsunami modelling)
  • Agreements and interagency protocols established to ensure consistency of warning language and communication responsibilities where different hazards are handled by different agencies
  • A multi-hazard coordination strategy established to obtain mutual efficiencies and effectiveness among different warning systems
  • Warning system partners, including local authorities and the media, are aware of and respect which organizations are responsible for generation and issuance of warnings
  • Cross-border exchange of warnings and observation data realized through bilateral/ multilateral agreements, especially for concerns such as tropical cyclones, floods, diseases, shared basins, data exchange, and technical capacity-building


Linkages with other elements

Understanding the risk profile of the country provides critical information for the other multi-hazard early warning system elements, namely:

  • Risk knowledge: Monitoring and forecasting data and information provide the basis for quantifying hazards and exposure to risk.
  • Warning dissemination and communication: Warnings are the trigger for communication mechanisms and initiate the processes for decision-making and enacting emergency plans.
  • Preparedness and response capabilities: Risk-informed warnings provide the necessary information for people to protect themselves and their property and start emergency response processes.