Early warning phase (phase 2)

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Characteristics of the early warning phase


  • As a first step at the beginning of this phase, information is gathered, noting ‘weak signals’ or issues as these develop, and examining various data sources.
  • Nowadays, the public has modern technology at its disposal making it an active data source.
  • The second step is taken when an emergency appears likely to happen. This step initiates preparations to mobilize resources, including informing the public.
  • Channels for issuing public warnings need to be selected carefully. This includes both news media (press and broadcasting) and direct channels of communication.

Public Perception and Motivation

  • When informed about an imminent emergency, the public will be more interested in searching for additional information.
  • Active groups will be willing to convey and forward information.
  • False alarms will not be appreciated by the public.

Recommendations supporting empowerment in the early warning phase

  • Attention should be focused on those most likely to be involved in the crisis.
  • Information needs to be continuously updated about the likelihood of the threat materializing, e.g. a heavy weather forecast.
  • As interest and urgency increase, people who did not previously subscribe to information, or become a follower of a Twitter account, can be asked to join.
  • People are asked to be prepared. This can concern precautionary action to minimize damage, such as asking people to report signs, forward information or help others to be ready. This includes intermediaries and contacts with partners in and outside of the response network.
  • It is important to monitor both the social and news media, and pay attention to the worries and concerns of citizens, e.g. in the case of an evacuation that houses are patrolled, and animals looked after.
  • Support by citizens should be encouraged. If community resilience is high, citizen groups will be active in connecting people in this phase as well. This can be online and face to face, for example when preparedness is being discussed within families and communities.

Technology aspects and how it supports the preparedness phase

Technology Aspects

  • When collecting information, the public may be encouraged to take part through participatory sensing applications. While these are currently technically feasible, the motivation of observers to collect data remains unclarified.

How technology could support public resilience

  • Monitoring social media can be used to search for weak signals. Specific algorithms, terms or keywords can be used for filtering information, and the development of issues can be followed, e.g. in certain geological areas.
  • Technology can help reach and target individuals, groups or communities in the possible danger zone.
  • Technology can provide channels through which people can report their observations on the evolving situation.

Examples of best practices