Meet the new and extended ADAM

The powerful weapon that triggers emergency preparedness for a timely response

Anuj Anand
Aug 30, 2018 · 4 min read

What happens when a tropical storm is forecasted? How many people might be affected? How strong is the storm? How much rainfall will occur? What resources are available near the area? The World Food Programme (WFP) has extended its Automated Disaster Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) alert system to provide the entire humanitarian community with answers to these questions.

ADAM first started sending earthquake alerts in 2015. Since being launched, it has helped WFP coordinate its response activities during several major emergencies, such as the 2015 Nepal earthquake that killed 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. In 2017, ADAM was expanded to monitor tropical storms, and was critical when Hurricane Maria hit Dominica last year and left more than 50,000 of the island’s 73,000 residents displaced.

As soon as Hurricane Maria was forecasted to make landfall in Dominica, ADAM consistently sent a series of alerts to its subscribers. The alerts started two days before the hurricane hit the island, and lasted until the time it occurred. Each alert had increasingly accurate information about the trajectory and impact of the hurricane on Dominica’s residents. This supported humanitarian actors to come together, prepare and coordinate response activities as efficiently as possible.

How does ADAM work?

When an earthquake occurs, ADAM produces a concise dashboard, in real-time, which features details about the scale of the emergency, the number of people affected, current weather conditions and the WFP resources available in the area.

“From the very first ADAM alert I received, I have continued to be impressed by both its usefulness and timeliness. I receive the alerts much before seeing the event reported by CNN, BBC or AL Jazeera,” says Amir Abdulla, WFP Deputy Executive Director.

The dashboard enables WFP to take well-informed operational decisions in a timely manner to save lives and reduce the impact of earthquakes on vulnerable populations.

Now, when a tropical storm is forecasted, ADAM pulls information from a variety of sources, including from the European Commission Joint Research Centre and from WFP’s own databases to also produce a dashboard that shows the population likely to be affected, coastal storm surge and wind speeds.

WFP has strengthened its tropical storm alert system through a collaboration with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. From now on, to complement the dashboard showing the wind speed, ADAM will automatically produce an associated dashboard that shows the expected rainfall for three days in key cities that may be affected by a tropical storm.

Together, the two dashboards provide a more complete and in-depth view of how devastating a tropical storm could potentially be before it occurs. This new feature will allow WFP and other humanitarian actors to carry out more informed preparedness actions such as knowing exactly where to pre-position food stocks or identifying alternative routes for delivering food in view of a future hazard.

“ADAM started with reports on seismic events, and then with the Tropical Storm addition, became a natural hazard compendium alerting the entire humanitarian community in a timely and accurate manner on potentially catastrophic events that might require a response,” explains Amir. “ADAM is innovation at its best.”

Extending ADAM to a wider audience

ADAM earthquake and tropical storm alerts are now automatically sent to all humanitarians working in the field and staying at WFP guesthouses so that they can be kept up-to-date on natural events occurring in their surroundings. The service is also provided to WFP’s field security officers so that they can take immediate action to ensure staff safety.

“Timeliness of response is one of the most critical factors to save lives in emergencies,” says Project Coordinator Andrea Amparore of the Emergency Preparedness and Support Response Branch. “Just seconds after an earthquake occurs, or days before a tropical storm makes landfall, ADAM provides the right information, to the right people, at the right time.”

Follow @WFP_ADAM on Twitter for real-time earthquake and tropical storm analysis and alerts.

If you work for a humanitarian organization, you can subscribe to ADAM and receive the dashboards directly in your inbox.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme