ALERT: Preparing to respond now

The ALERT project is developing an innovative emergency preparedness system that aims to help humanitarian agencies respond with greater speed, efficiency and effectiveness, before and immediately after a disaster strikes.

Credit © Vincent Henson, HelpAge International

About the project

The ALERT project is developing an innovative emergency preparedness system that aims to help humanitarian agencies respond with greater speed, efficiency and effectiveness, before and immediately after a disaster strikes.

Research shows that many aid organisations are inadequately prepared to respond effectively and immediately when disasters strike, with limited access to resources that could help them do this. Sustained and dynamic preparedness is a challenging goal for the sector, and to achieve this preparedness must be re-imagined with greater emphasis on collaboration between organisations.

The ALERT System is a user-driven solution using technology as a tool to overcome the challenges of disaster preparedness and response faced by humanitarian agencies and donors. It aims to streamline the emergency preparedness and response process and enhance coordination and learning. The system is designed to enable donor agencies to quickly identify and fund response plans even before the onset of a disaster or immediately after one, thereby increasing the chances of saving lives.

Designed for humanitarian agencies and donors, regardless of size or mandate, a key aspect of the project is the multi-sectoral collaboration between humanitarian agencies, donor agencies, international institutions, academia and the private sector (tech companies, risk management firms, law firms for example). The project brings together the collective knowledge and experience of these various sectors and draws on their different strengths in order to find innovative ways to improve emergency preparedness and response – and distils that into one system.

The ALERT system will include a package of tools, training and manuals, which will be freely available and adaptable to any context, by any humanitarian agency. The collaborative project, running in eight countries, will enable users to share feedback and recommendations which will be used to help refine the system as it is rolled out to more countries.

Over three years the project will

1. Research existing preparedness processes and concepts
2. Design a harmonised and configurable emergency preparedness system
3. Convert concepts into practice
4. Test the process in four countries
5. Update and improve the system based on learning and review
6. Roll out the system in four more countries
7. Finalise the system, based on further feedback
8. Disseminate the system to humanitarian sector

Key features of the system

Risk analysis

The ALERT project is working with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy to incorporate INFORM and G-DACS data into the system to help country offices map hazards and assess risks.

Early warning - hazard indicator monitoring

Monitoring provides early warning of emerging risks, which in turn allows for early action, such as escalating preparedness activity, reviewing response/contingency plans. ALERT will enable users to monitor key indicators, ensuring that country teams are aware of changes in their context.

Minimum & advanced preparedness actions

Minimum preparedness is a set of predetermined activities that the country team must implement in order to establish and maintain a minimum level of emergency preparedness. ALERT will enable users to automate this preparedness process through, for example, preloaded preparedness activities that can be assigned, executed and tracked, and a traffic light system (green, amber and red) to denote the status of the activity. The ALERT team is working with the CHS Alliance to incorporate a set of preparedness actions that can be used to gauge compliance with the Core Humanitarian Standards.

Online preparedness/response planning

This section of the system allows for teams to put together a preparedness/response plan. They are basic forms that cover who they will be helping in the event of a disaster and how they plan to do it. The system will allow for different plan templates to be completed using one central form - allowing country teams to submit multiple plans to different bodies all at once.

Read more about the key features of the project.
View the prototype of the system.

Who is involved?

This project is delivered through a consortium led by HelpAge and including Oxfam, CARE, Islamic Relief, Handicap International and Concern. Coventry University is also a partner.

Where is the project taking place?

The project will operate in eight countries through the country offices of the agencies involved and their partners – Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Philippines and Somalia.


The project is funded with £1,987,000 by UK Aid’s Disaster and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP).


To read more about the learning gained from the delivery of this project and other DEPP projects, please visit

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