ADAM Alert System Extends its Reach to Boost Humanitarian Response
Original story first published on wfp.org on 20 May 2016
WFP’s Automated Disaster Analysis and Mapping system (ADAM) is being opened up to other organizations in a move that can improve the collective humanitarian response on the ground.
ADAM produces a “virtual dashboard” as soon as a disaster strikes, featuring details such as the magnitude of an earthquake, the number of people potentially affected, weather conditions and the WFP resources available in the area. It is already making a dramatic difference in reducing the time between disaster striking and WFP’s response.
“We were receiving lots of requests from other organizations for ADAM to be made available outside WFP,” said Project Coordinator Andrea Amparore of the Emergency Preparedness Branch. “This will now allow other organizations to have essential information immediately, and improve the overall humanitarian response.”
Subscribers from humanitarian organizations will receive automatically generated email alerts, while other individuals can follow on Twitter @WFP_ADAM and receive tweets with key information.
The Shake Map
Meanwhile, the introduction of a new feature, the Shake Map, is set to further increase the effectiveness of ADAM. The map is sent out one hour after the initial alert dashboard, providing an early estimate of damage through assessments of the geology structure and soil consistency in the affected areas.
“It’s hard to estimate the real effects of an earthquake just from the magnitude,” says Amparore. “The Shake Map helps us to have a clearer idea of the damage on the ground in the very initial phase of the emergency, enabling us to better tailor our response.”
ADAM works by pulling together information from sources including the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, the US Geological Survey and the World Bank, as well as from WFP databases. The ADAM dashboard is automatically produced when a disaster registers over a certain scale.
“In the past, all these operations were performed manually and were time-consuming for staff,” explains Amparore. “This reduced the time available for further detailed analysis and affected the speed of our response.”
Reducing the time lag
Since its launch early last year, ADAM has meant a reduction in the time between a disaster striking and the moment when WFP takes action. “Within 12 minutes of the earthquake in Ecuador last month, ADAM had sent out its dashboard — long before the media even started talking about it,” says Amparore. “Instead of hours, we are talking about minutes in terms of being able to gather information. In an earthquake situation, minutes mean lives.”
The system comes at no additional cost to WFP, as it has been developed with open-source (free to use) technology. ADAM is currently active for earthquakes, but an expansion is planned next year to include monitoring of tropical storms.