How and why real-time information is critical in enabling public sector organizations to serve their communities during crises and high-impact events.
When a disaster strikes, government agencies and NGOs need access to reliable, actionable information. But as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, these leaders continue to grapple with response and resilience strategies that allow them to quickly pivot and adjust when hit with a crisis or major disruption.
This includes natural disasters, cyber attacks and reputational vulnerabilities, which have become increasingly frequent and unpredictable. For public sector organizations, this means responding to crises more quickly and effectively has become even more of an imperative, one that requires real-time information.
How does real-time information work?
Public sector organizations can harness the power of real-time information to ensure they know what is happening in and around the world and their local region—and that they know as soon as events occur. To better understand the value of the information received, let’s take a look at First Alert, Dataminr’s product for the public sector.
With it, first responders and emergency management teams get the earliest indications of breaking news events via real-time alerts. This gives them the critical lead time needed to enable the fastest real-time response. Think of these breaking news alerts as your first layer of crisis response.
Here are a few quick facts about how First Alert works:
- Delivers information in close proximity to the time at which events occur, sometimes within seconds or minutes of an occurrence
- Uses an industry-leading AI platform to process billions of units of public information daily
- Leverages hundreds of thousands of public data sources, including social media, news outlets, blogs, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, the deep and dark web and audio transmissions
- Includes coverage at the global, regional, local and hyperlocal level in more than 150 languages and multiple formats
- Notifies users on a vast range of breaking news and events that are often difficult to manually search for and identify
The goal of First Alert is simple: to help public sector organizations discover and act on the earliest, most comprehensive signals about breaking news and high-impact events. By building an accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground during these critical incidents, First Alert enables them to significantly reduce response times, minimize damage and ultimately save lives.
Partnering to Evacuate Nearly 200 Women From Afghanistan
In August 2021, when the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, the lives of many were suddenly at risk. This included the lives of the Afghan girls robotics team, their family members and more than 150 female students from Asian University for Women.
Dataminr NGO partner Direct Relief used Dataminr’s real-time alerting solution—in conjunction with other cutting-edge technology—to help keep the women safe. Dataminr provided real-time alerts on what was happening in and around Kabul, including potential danger zones and critical flight information needed to get the women to the Kabul airport and airlifted to safety. Thankfully, not one of the women in the group was left behind.
What are the benefits of real-time information?
Real-time information benefits organizations of all sizes and scope, including intergovernmental organizations, government agencies and NGOs, ensuring their response teams can:
- Provide the fastest real-time response
- Protect the safety of the communities they serve
- Maintain real-time visibility of events as they unfold, be it over the course of seconds, minutes, hours or days
- Identify unforeseen risks
- Accelerate cross-team understanding and cooperation to ensure resources and relief efforts are deployed efficiently
Real-time information is also critical in understanding the scale and scope of events, especially those that are both global and complex.
Take for instance how, in December 2021, breaking news delivered by First Alert alerted customers to the widespread impacts of Typhoon Rai, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines that year. As a result, customers were able to stay ahead of the typhoon, allowing them to mitigate public service disruptions and damage to critical infrastructure. First Alert also provided up-to-the-minute alerts on the impacts of disaster relief efforts across the region.
Or consider Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in the state of Louisiana in September 2021. Via First Alert, a statewide agency leveraged social media sources and sensor data to understand the severity of damage to Kerner Swing Bridge, the only point of access between a bay community off of the Gulf Coast and the state’s mainland.
Being able to receive the information in real time allowed the agency to quickly determine that the bridge had been destroyed. It was then able to ensure its team of responders had the right emergency equipment on hand to build a temporary structure.
Later that September, first responders in Louisiana relied on First Alert’s breaking news alerts to respond, in real time, to an explosion at a chemical plant. Initial alerts were based on firsthand accounts of smoke and affected sensor data. The local emergency response team successfully extinguished the plant fire and assisted injured workers.
Real-time information has become more valuable over the past several years thanks to our hyperconnected world, a proliferation of information and the speed of data globalization. Twelve years ago, about 95 percent of Dataminr’s public information sources didn’t even exist. Today, we have hundreds of thousands.
Public sector organizations that understand the need for, and importance of, real-time information are able to realize its full power. To inform. To educate. To safeguard the communities they serve as well as the critical infrastructure that supports them.
Learn more about how public sector organizations use Dataminr’s First Alert product to stay ahead of breaking news and high-impact events.