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International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning

Ideas and innovation

Ideas and innovation

PPEW aims to stimulate new ideas and new approaches toward improving early warning systems. In due course this will include a forum for reader comments and suggestions. PPEW aims to seek progress on the development of the following topics.

Early warning systems definition
The term “system” is now widely used, for example in electricity supply systems, transport systems, product distribution and marketing systems and health care delivery systems. A system is a set of interacting component parts that acts as a whole to produce an outcome. Systems thinking and methods have been very influential in improving the design and operation of many elements of modern society. Early warning systems can be likewise examined and improved from this perspective.

The first step forward calls for the definition of the early warning system – of its desired outcomes, component parts, internal relationships, inputs and outputs – along with measures of its performance, preferably in relation to appropriate benchmarks or norms. The four-element framework provides a good basis for examining and defining early warning systems.

Benefit-cost studies
Intrinsic to the systems approach is the assessment of the benefits and costs of the system and its component parts. In addition to helping to improve the cost-efficiency of early warning systems, benefit-cost assessments are also powerful motivators for political support. Early warning and preparedness systems are widely acknowledged as good investments to protect life and property, but more work is needed in order to provide harder facts for policymakers and to identify what specific types of investments along the early warning chain will have the greatest payoff.

An early warning research agenda
At present, there is no internationally shared and endorsed research agenda for early warning. Such an agenda is necessary in order to capitalize on and steer the extensive expertise that is available to systematically advance early warning systems development.

Guidance and best practice
PPEW will seek to develop guidance materials and good practice information to provide the practical help which policy makers and managers need in order to evaluate and develop their own systems. Ideally this should include post event analysis and lessons learned.

Early warning systems for developing countries
Developing countries often have the greatest need for early warning systems, but at the same time the least capacity to implement them. In addition, advanced technologies are sometimes unsustainable in developing country economies. New initiatives and targeted research are needed to develop affordable tailored solutions for those in need. Capacity building in early warning systems needs to be developed as part of other national sustainable development projects.