People are relying more and more on technology for information. During disasters, people often use their phones and computers as tools to understand “what do I do now?” It is important that the messaging received is safe and actionable, contextualised, and from a trusted source. The ‘What Now’ Messaging Service aims to provide worldwide network users with an early warning and localised action guidance. This initiative is supported by a partnership between Google and the IFRC’s Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC), a resource centre hosted by American Red Cross and designed to support the Red Cross Red Crescent network

A hazard is imminent – what to do now?

The ‘What Now’ Messaging Service is a data feed of actionable and contextualised messages on how individuals and households can prepare and respond to local hazards. It draws directly from IFRC Public Awareness and Public Education (PAPE) key messages for disaster risk reduction, which is evidence-based guidance used to promote consistent actions for the public in the event of hazards. ‘What Now’ messages are taken from PAPE, mapped by six hazard urgency levels (from mid-term forecast through to recovery), and are being translated into 78 languages. National Societies can access these messages and contextualise them to their local risks and culture.

Available digitally through an API, the localised key messages will be accessible to wider networks to increase speed and scale of disseminating timely actionable information. Partners, such as the media, can then pull the messages to complement hazard alerts from local authorities already being distributed on network platforms. This will give the public simple and actionable steps on how to stay safe in case of a disaster occurring near their area.

Partnering with Google

Google already has a crisis alert system on different platforms that warn users about imminent or already-happening hazards in their area. With the launch of the ‘What Now’ Messaging Service in February 2017, these Google crisis alerts will include three to five Red Cross ‘What Now’ messages that guide the user on how to act safely in the face of the hazard.

Over the next year, Google and GDPC will be working together to hold regional workshops with National Societies to contextualise the messages. Once contextualised, these google crisis alerts will include geo-targeted What Now Messages with the Red Cross Red Crescent National Society attribution – giving users the trusted Red-Cross name and messaging so they can stay safe.

For more information and to learn more about your nearest regional workshop, please contact bonnie.haskell@redcross.org.

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