Frequently Asked Questions
Will ALERT be “free” software?
The intention is to make the software freely available to any humanitarian agency anywhere in the world irrespective of its size or mandate. However since we are still in the “Proof of Concept” stage it is not certain how this will be delivered. The next step - the piloting phase ALERT will be hosted in the Cloud and agencies will be given free access and use of the software
We don’t do or want to do everything that is in ALERT. Can we opt out of some parts?
ALERT will have a number of configuration and setting options giving agencies flexibility when using the software. Agencies will be able to opt in and out of ALERT modules.
When will partners get access to ALERT?
Partners can be given access to the ALERT software through the country office (we encourage this practice as it helps with planning and collaboration). We are planning two versions of ALERT the first is the hosted platform but ALERT will eventually be available as a desktop version. The advantage of the hosted version is that all users automatically enjoy updates and improvements as soon as they are applied. The desktop version will be a static version. Partners can be given access to the ALERT platform in their own right once the piloting phase is complete.
What else come with the ALERT software?
There is a training package developed by Coventry University that accompanies the software. The training package includes an Emergency Preparedness Process textbook complete with real emergency experience stories, cartoons, scenarios and many exciting features. A workshop-training module. A basic ALERT software user guide. The user guide will evolve over time as the software is tested during the piloting phase
When will ALERT be available?
ALERT is an evolving software being developed collaboratively by more than 30 humanitarian agencies. We are currently in the proof of concept stage, testing new ideas and exploring how the software can support and ease the burden of preparedness. The next phase will be piloting and platform testing and finally taking the system to scale. ALERT will evolve and improve over a number of years based on agency’s experience in using the system. The first “beta” (or Minimum Viable Product – MVP) will be available to agencies in late 2017.
Will my data be protected and private?
ALERT is a designed to store information but much of the information is public information. Staff contact information and data is secure and cannot be obtained for anyone outside your agency. Any documents uploaded can be posted as public or private documents. At the moment there are only two users who can access multiple agencies. The Country Director can access the preparedness of peer agencies BUT only those in the same country. Donors will be able to access headline information about preparedness of any agency in any country.
Why doesn’t ALERT use more maps?
Maps are an important aspect of ALERT but they are also expensive to develop and build into the MVP therefore at this stage we are not including a lot of map features but future reiterations of ALERT will progressively add more mapping features
How many languages will ALERT be available in?
The ALERT v1 prototype tested a multilingual platform and it provided some valuable lessons. The importance of multilingual platform cannot be underestimated especially for southern NGOs but it is also expensive to develop and we have insufficient funds to develop it in the first MVP. The first MVP will be in English but the desire is to offer ALERT with a number of appropriate languages in future versions
How much time will I need to keep the system updated?
This varies from one agency's context to another and from one country's context to another, but in general it doesn't take too long to review and renew preparedness actions. Depending on your settings, the system won't ask you to renew a preparedness action until after 3-6 months when its validity expires. If the information on the system is still correct, then renewing the preparedness action just takes a click of a button.
This looks different to our preparedness actions. Can we customise them?
ALERT is a database and the content can be changed to suit any agency. It is true that the prototype does have NGO type actions but in the MVP it will be possible to add HCT, UN agency or any other type of preparedness activities
Why are there CHS activities?
The CHS preparedness activities are an agreed (still to be finalised) set of mandated preparedness activities that are directly related to the nine Core Humanitarian Standards. Having an agreed set of activities that are directly linked to a recognised standard means that we are also able to measure a country office’s level of preparedness against a standard list of preparedness activities. Therefore this provides agencies with an objective measure of the country office preparedness. Having the CHS activities within ALERT enables agencies to “kill two birds with one stone” and achieve preparedness as well as CHS compliance. An added bonus is that ALERT documents and is a verifiable archive of your country office’s CHS compliance and current compliance levels (in terms of preparedness)
Do we have to do Risk and Indicator monitoring?
No you can opt out of this module. However it will be beneficial for the country office to keep track of the potential hazards and changes within the country context. Early warning and the discussion around changes in the indicators is highly beneficial to the country ERT and the awareness of changes within the country context
What are country context indicators?
These are a set of indicators that inform you of changes within the country context. For example you might want to monitor things like access to grain on the market, access to water, movement of livestock etc all of which tell you something about changes that are taking place in your country
How many preparedness activities do we need to have?
The number of preparedness activities will be determined by several factors. First are the CHS activities that are mandated (there are currently 29 CHS preparedness actions). Second there will be your agencies mandated preparedness activities, which will be in addition to the CHS. The number will vary across agencies. Third there are a set of activities that the country office can add. There is no limit to the number of preparedness activities you can add to ALERT.
What happens if we cannot complete a preparedness action?
The country Director had the option of disabling a preparedness activity. This feature is not demonstrated in the prototype but it will be in the Minimum Viable Product.