Although long historical records do exist in many cases, particularly for hazards, in others data is scarce and there are significant variations in data quality. Data may be inaccessible because of non-digital format.
At the national level, the main challenges include: establishing and maintaining observing systems and data management systems; maintaining archives, including quality control and digitization of historical data; obtaining systematic environmental data for vulnerability analysis; and securing institutional mandates for collection and analysis of vulnerability data.
It is difficult to collect accurate data. As a result of security and ownership, information is increasingly restricted in its efficient utilization.
ttere is a danger in losing societal memory of past hazards, particularly for infrequent hazards. In addition to losing knowledge of hazards, young communities face losing knowledge about how to reduce vulnerability and how to respond to warnings.
Despite significant progress having been made on monitoring and forecasting hazards, many gaps still exist, particularly in emerging countries.
Key issues include: inadequate distribution of monitoring systems for hydro-meteorological hazards; inadequate level of operational capabilities (resources, ex pertise and operational warning services); lack of systems for many hazards such as dust and sand storms, severe storms, flash floods and storm surges; lack of procedures to share essential data in a timely fashion for the development of modeling and for operational forecasting and warning systems; inadequate access to information (forecasts and interpreted data); insufficient multi-disciplinary, multi-agency coordination and collaboration for improving forecasting tools; inadequate communication systems to provide timely, accurate and meaningful forecasting and early warning information down to the level of farming communities
Warning messages do not reach all at risk. In developing countries this is largely a result of the underdeveloped dissemination infrastructure and systems, while in developed countries it is the incomplete coverage of systems, tte resource constraints also contribute to the lack of necessary redundancy in services for information in many countries.
Other factors and gaps to be considered include: 1) Telecommunication systems and technology - ttere is also a need to upgrade telecommunications facilities, including equipment, service provisioning and operation, to be based on internationally agreed standards for the timely delivery of warnings from authorities to the public. It should be noted that non-technological systems are in many cases necessary and adequate and are usually tailored to those who use them, ensuring their sustainability. An example is the case of traditional knowledge and information acquired through educational and awareness-raising programs; 2) Inadequate standards - ttere is need for development of standards, protocols and procedures for exchange of data, bulletins, alerts, etc. for some of the hazards, which traditionally have not been exchanged internationally among countries (e.g., tsunami). Protocols are critical, particularly when the lead time is short; 3) Poor public interest and concern - Perhaps the most important reason for people failing to heed warnings is that the warnings do not address their values, interests and needs. Messages are often not sufficiently targeted to the users and do not reflect an understanding of the decisions stakeholders need to make to respond to the warning. Lack of public interest in warnings also occurs because early warning systems only provide information on impending crises, ttey do not report on positive developments in the system that would engender public confidence and trust in future warnings, such as scientific advances that will enhance the warning services, or positive outcomes of responses to previous warnings. To overcome this obstacle, the public needs to be periodically informed about the hazards and the level of risk they pose, and how this may be changing, ttis information should not be technical and should remind the population of similar events; 4) Proliferation of communication technologies -tte use of the new information and communication technologies, particularly the Internet, in disseminating warnings is a useful advance for expanding the coverage and reducing time lags in warning dissemination, yet it is also creating problems of untargeted messages inducing wrong responses due to misinterpretation, ttis problem is also related to the type of hazard under consideration; 5) Ineffective engagement of the media - Warning dissemination maybe inadequate because of ineffective engagement of warning authorities with the media, tte media is interested in reporting news and not necessarily in disseminating useful warnings, ttus, conflicts can arise when the media publish inaccurate or misleading information about potential events that contradict the official warning messages; 6) Ineffective integration of lessons - Finally, warning dissemination can be ineffective if there is a lack of feedback on the system and its performance. Serious hazard events are relatively rare at any one location, and experience of an event may be quickly forgotten. Formal feedback processes are needed to ensure that the system continually evolves and improves based on feedback and learning from previous experience.
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