Reviewing NDMA Disaster Alert App; Pakistan 1st Step towards Ecotechnology

by M. Wasim

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) launched in March this year a mobile app to alert the public to impending disasters and provide essential safety guidelines. The NDMA’s initiative is part of the response to weather forecasts predicting rain, snowfall, flood GLOF, heatwave and other calamities to mitigate the impact of these weather events. It is appreciated as the NDMA Disaster Alert App is probably the first ever step by any climate-related government authority towards any ecotechnology measure. However, reviewing the App, has found several errors and shortcomings in the App, which authenticates nothing but ineptness and frivolity on behalf of the NDMA.

Disaster Alert App and Ecotechnology:

Ecotechnology is the use of technology for ecosystem management. A day ago on June 20, 2024, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif lauded the NDMA and said it would prove to be a “safety wall” against the impacts of climate change. He was visiting the Authority’s revamped National Emergencies Operation Centre (NEOC), where he was briefed by the NDMA chairman Lt Gen Inam Haider Malik about the eco-technological capabilities of the NEOC, digitally fed by multiple satellite feeds, software and artificial intelligence tools to strengthen digital risk assessment, early warning systems and preparedness strategies. One of their latest innovations was the Disaster Alert App.

According to the NDMA, the Disaster Alert App aims to empower individuals and communities with vital information to prepare for and respond to potential disasters effectively. The official description of the App mentions “A comprehensive and user-friendly platform designed for early warning alerts and Community engagement. Enables NDMA to provide timely risk communication through necessary information and critical alerts before disasters. It also features regular Updates during and after emergencies. Developed with the primary goal of enhancing public safety and awareness, this application serves as a vital tool to keep users informed and prepared in the face of various crises.” But in practice, the description is all lies and the App is just a big storeroom of PDF files without any alert notifications.

Basic Flaws in the NDMA Disaster Alert App:

A disaster alert App is referred as an innovative platform that transforms disaster preparedness, making relevant authorities more efficient and users more informed. With real-time updates, climatic conditions, resource allocation, and response coordination capabilities, a disaster management app is an integral part of any environment emergency plan, which takes control of disaster management strategy via mobiles and tablets. Any such App also wisely incorporates various Ecotech features that help users or people to make their region climate-resilient through ecofriendly measures. But in the NDMA Disaster Alert App the aspect of Ecotech is totally missing.

As stated earlier, the NDMA Disaster Alert App is just a big storeroom of PDF files. However, the following basic features must be installed or incorporated in a disaster alert App, yet the NDMA App lacks them distressingly;

  1. In a disaster management App, communication is an essential feature, when users can communicate easily with emergency services and other relevant parties by using the “Chat Communication” function. But forget communication chat, the NDMA App is unable to deliver even a simple text message or notification in an alarming situation.
  • Similarly, live mapping is a fundamental tool within the App’ emergency notification system, serving communications strategy to guide people to reach safe destinations in emergencies. The NDMA App has bunches of maps, but all in PDF format, which are unresponsive and unable to guide people to safe areas or relief camps.  
  • The App lacks collaboration and coordination between authorities and users via the main dashboard and mobile interface respectively, necessary to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of disaster response efforts.
  • One of the primary features of any disaster management App is the integration of real-time data for disaster preparedness to provide users with immediate updates and alerts. These alerts can include essential information such as evacuation orders, weather forecasts, road conditions, and emergency services’ contact details. Real-time updates and alerts empower users to stay informed and make decisions that can potentially save lives in the face of a disaster. Neither the NDMA App nor the authorities themselves have any clue about real time data management.
  • Besides, there is no feature to help families prepare for what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes. Neither any “I’m Safe” feature that helps people connect with their loved ones.


Editorial, Infocus

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