The IFRC Alert Hub is a free online source that aggregates all published, multi-hazard CAP alerts from official government alerting authorities worldwide.
Features of the IFRC Alert Hub:
- One-stop for multi-hazard emergency alerts from national to local levels centralized in one place.
- Alert messages are published in the CAP format that can easily integrate with “all-media”, including communications media ranging from sirens to cell phones, faxes, radio, television, and various digital communication networks to reach broad audiences including the ‘last mile’.
- It leverages the IFRC^s Public Awareness and Public Education (PAPE) key messages to link early warning messages with actionable guidance on how people can safely act.
The goal of the Alert Hub initiative is to protect lives and livelihoods by increasing the use of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to expand the reach of reliable, fast and actionable early warning messages to people at risk.
The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is an international standard format to issue early warning alerts and communicates key facts of an emergency such as:
- What is it?
- Where is it?
- How soon is it?
- How bad is it?
- What should people do?
It is a set format for broadcasting all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks.
The IFRC Alert Hub only uses CAP alerts issued by official alerting authorities. Those are alerting authorities designated by the government in each country, as seen in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Register of Alerting Authorities at https://alertingauthority.wmo.int/authorities.php
- CAP alerts can be issued for all hazard types, from meteorological and seismic hazards to disease outbreaks or technological hazards.
- CAP alerts are compatible with all kinds of public alerting systems and can easily integrate into “all media” including data networks and broadcast radio and TV.
- Emergency messages can be targeted to different audiences to ensure that they reach everyone who needs to be informed, and only those who need to be informed.
- The standardized format for issuing emergency warnings enables consistency over multiple channels so people can confirm alerts coming through different channels.
- CAP format allows for easy multilingual customization.
CAP is a standard format that covers all relevant information of an emergency alert. In addition, the CAP standard format allows for geographical targeting. As such, CAP alerts ensure that all relevant information is distributed to everyone who needs to be informed, but also only those who need to be informed. Also, currently alerts often don’t include actionable key messages. With CAP, there is a specific place to input action-oriented messages to ensure that any communication channel broadcasting the alert information includes that safety guidance. The standard format also ensures consistency and redundancy of the emergency alerts across many different communication and broadcasting channels. For example, if a person wants to confirm the information of an alert received over radio, they will get the same, consistent message over social media, TV broadcast, and their online newspaper.
The Alert Hub initiative will support National Societies in working closely with alerting authorities to introduce or strengthen the use of CAP in-country. Through the introduction of the CAP format and National Societies’ involvement in the process the quality control of emergency alerts will increase.
While the IFRC Alert Hub is the technical implementation of the alerting platform, the IFRC is also supporting National Societies to build partnerships with their government counterparts to build capacities for CAP use in-country and engage media agencies for the dissemination of CAP alerts. The IFRC Alert Hub initiative follows two main avenues of implementation:
- IFRC establishes and maintains the “IFRC Alert Hub”
- Free service, open to everyone
- One-stop for all CAP alerts from official sources, continuously tested and updated
- Multi-Hazard approach means more comprehensive alerting is available
2. National Society engagement with alerting agencies for:
- Training and ongoing mentoring on utilization of CAP
- Encouraging continued utilization
- Establishing internal CAP networks for emergency service providers
- Jointly establishing ‘what to do’ messaging
- Engagement with local media agencies
The CAP standard format provides an ‘instruction’ field to include information on what actions people should take in response to the early warning alert. But, it is a challenge to assure that this text is always well understood by the people who need to act on the instruction. Leveraging the Public Awareness and Public Education (PAPE) messages with CAP alerting allows the instruction text to be more understandable and harmonized across types of emergencies. PAPE messages are already available on a global platform of Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies’ localized key messages on how individuals and households can prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Through this harmonization of trusted messaging, communities can receive messaging across different communication channels and learn how to act safely. For more information on the PAPE messages please visit this site https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/messages-disaster-prevention/
The Alert Hub facilitates free access to CAP alerts to anybody wishing to disseminate trusted, reliable, secure, and precise emergency messages, and so help people to protect lives and livelihoods. Users can be a wide range of different actors, including National Societies, alerting agencies, news organizations, telecommunications providers, international and national emergency managers, and disaster relief organizations, among others.
In its initial phase, the Alert Hub initiative will focus on working with Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies to become champions that engage with the alerting authorities in their respective country and promote use of the CAP standard format for emergency warnings.
National Societies play a key role in promoting the use of the CAP standard format and the Alert Hub by their government partners. The Alert Hub initiative will support National Societies by way of:
- Facilitating technical training for National Societies to become ‘CAP champions’.
- Providing guidance and ongoing mentoring for managing outreach and partnership building with alerting authorities and media for the use and dissemination of CAP.
- Enabling financial support to allow for in-country activities, e.g. local CAP training, learning-by-doing CAP implementation sessions, development of communications and outreach materials, local travel costs.
The Alert Hub initiative is implemented at the Global Level as well as at the regional and national level.
Global Level activities
- Technical implementation of the Alert Hub and integration into the wider IFRC data infrastructure;
- Integration of PAPE harmonized messages to enhance emergency alerts with actionable guidance on how to prepare for and respond to disasters;
- Engagement and RCRC representation in global CAP coordination structures;
- Development of tailored training materials for National Societies;
- Coordination with existing initiatives like Forecast based Financing and Forecast based Action;
- Ongoing technical support to National Societies.
Regional and National Level activities
- Advocacy and outreach to government focal points for the implementation of CAP;
- Contextualization of guidance on how individuals and households can safely prepare for and respond to emergencies;
- Small grants program to support local engagement;
- Establish local media partnerships.
The project starts off with a targeted list of countries that have been prioritized with regards to their CAP implementation status, frequency of natural hazards, and development status, as well as interest from funding agencies. Over the course of project implementation we hope to strengthen or build capacities for CAP utilization in 33 countries. As part of the initiative, a virtual CAP implementation toolkit will be developed that can support the advocacy for and implementation of CAP beyond the initial target countries. If you or your National Society are interested in further strengthening the early warning system in your country and want to learn more about CAP, please reach out to the project team.
Yes, even if CAP alerts are already being used, engagement in the Alert Hub initiative can further strengthen the emergency warning system in your country in the following ways
- CAP alerts might not always include harmonized, understandable, and actionable guidance so people know how to act to stay safe. Through the Alert Hub initiative we aim to reinforce and integrate PAPE messages into all CAP alerts that go out to the public so people in harm’s way understand the actions that will protect lives and livelihoods.
- Guidance will be provided on how to build or strengthen partnerships with local media to amplify the dissemination of CAP alerts. This will help to create redundancy of early warning alerts that go out through multiple channels at the same time. That means the alerts reach a greater number of people and allow people to cross-check and confirm the same alert information and the same guidance on what to do to stay safe.
- Sensitization and training will increase NS awareness of the utility of CAP for Early Warning Early Action and can further strengthen your National Societies’ position within the national disaster management system.
To find out more about the CAP status in your country please see this list of CAP Implementation in different countries http://preparecenter.org/resources/cap-implementations-status-report and this site on current alert sources https://alert-hub.s3.amazonaws.com/cap-sources.html
CAP is a digital standard format for enhancing emergency alerts which integrates easily with any kind of internet-based communication channels. CAP does not replace traditional, over-the-air and analog methods like radio; instead it supplements those sources and provides further redundancy in dissemination of reliable, consistent emergency alerts. The Alert Hub initiative aims to support National Societies and governments in strengthening partnerships with telecommunications providers and media agencies in support of CAP, thus increasing the number of media and communication channels that disseminate CAP-based emergency alerts and enabling more reliable, consistent information to go out to people at risk.
Under the Alert Hub initiative a small grants program will be established as a mechanism to provide funding support to National Societies participating in the initiative. The funding will be used to support CAP related activities in-countries, for example local CAP training, learning-by-doing CAP implementation sessions, development of communications and outreach materials, local travel costs, etc. What is most needed to get countries CAP ready will be coordinated on a case by case basis. The funding will likely be managed at the regional level together with the IFRC focal points. The small grants guidance is currently being developed.
The Alert Hub initiative is led by IFRC’s Disaster, Crises and Climate Department in close collaboration with the IFRC IT team working on the GO Platform and the Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC). The IFRC Alert Hub initiative is funded by USAID and Google.org. Collaboration structures with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are currently being established. Both WMO and ITU have worked extensively to provide guidelines and support the implementation of CAP, and are crucial partners to further expand the use of CAP globally.