WMO has joined with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to issue a joint Call to Action to improve availability and use of standardized emergency alerts.
The heads of the three organizations endorsed the call to “collectively scale up our efforts to ensure that by 2025 all countries have the capability for effective, authoritative emergency alerting that leverages the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), suitable for all media and all hazards.”
Every year, disasters lead to tragic loss of lives and livelihoods. Too much of this is due to ineffective public warning: emergency alerts that are not timely enough, not understandable enough, or fail to reach everyone at risk. Yet, these tragic losses could be reduced through the Common Alerting Protocol.
A CAP message communicates key facts of the emergency such as: What is it? Where is it? How soon is it? How bad is it? What should people do? Applicable to all kinds of telecommunications, CAP enhances emergency alerting so that it can be more understandable, precise, reliable, secure, and fast.
Since 2006, WMO has recognized CAP as the key standard for all-hazards, all-media public warning and alerting from authoritative sources. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are involved in most hazard threat alerting within and among countries and so have led the world in adoption of CAP, which has a proven track record of improved effectiveness and efficiency of official alerting systems.
“WMO is pleased to sign this Emergency Alerting Call to Action as part of its ongoing Global Multi-hazard Alert System (GMAS) development and its collaboration with governmental, non-governmental, and commercial organizations to achieve the broadest adoption of CAP worldwide,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
The Call to Action was launched at a special event during the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks 2021.
“The IFRC is pleased to endorse the Emergency Alerting Call to Action as part of its long-standing ambitions to ensure early warning messages reach 'last mile' communities,” said its Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain. He said it would help “to ensure that communities everywhere receive the most timely and effective emergency alerting possible, and can thereby safeguard their lives and livelihoods.”
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said that information and communications technologies are critical for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over different networks. CAP is part of the ITU Guidelines for developing National Emergency Telecommunications Plans.
The CAP Call to Action comes as, further to the development of the WMO GMAS framework, WMO also seeks to expand and improve the provision of Members expert advice to the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies to meet rising demand for authoritative information to support early action and response.
Increasing the utilization of CAP with dissemination and aggregation through GMAS, alongside other developments, including the 4.7 million CHF contribution from MeteoSwiss will play a key role in ensuring WMO responding to this demand.
In 2019 WMO established a coordination post at UN Headquarters in New York, providing a strategic information flow on weather, climate and water-related hazards to the UN operations and Crisis Centre. WMO New York and Geneva offices have recently combined forces to ensure the provision of authoritative advice to the UN’s Inter Agency Standing Committee.