Early Warning Systems: reframing the discussion

Philip Hall

Peer-reviewed Article


Philip Hall proposes a shift in the way emergency managers conceptualise Early Warning Systems

Archived Article


In recent years, the focus of the international community in relation to risk, disaster or emergency management has shifted from the development of disaster response capabilities to the need to strengthen risk reduction and control mechanisms and policies, with a particular interest in the design and implementation of better early warning systems as a major mitigator of disasters. The emphasis on early warning systems has turned attention and funding to the current capabilities and developments in science and technology, and unfortunately, distracted us from the central issue of addressing the real needs of the communities and people at risk. This paper argues from a background in mission critical systems, project management and business performance, that we cannot achieve the risk reduction and mitigation we seek until the emphasis is placed on the leadership role of emergency management in providing an effective early warning capability through the integration of the improvements in science and technology with traditional methods and an expanded commitment and involvement by all those at risk.