Reliable flood forecasting and early detection of flood conditions are critical components of an effective local flood warning program. For nearly two decades, user groups have maintained close associations with private sector vendors, consultants and government agencies involved with the business of flood warning. This has contributed substantially to the technological advancement of automated real-time monitoring systems. The technologies and methods described at this site illustrate some of the capabilities which have evolved, resulting in many successful flood warnings and partnerships. In addition to flood warning, these technologies are useful in many other areas of water resource management and planning.

ALERT is an acronym for Automated Local Evaluation in Real Time, which is a method of using remote sensors in the field to transmit environmental data to a central computer in real time. This standard was developed in the 1970's by the National Weather Service and has been used by the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, numerous state and local agencies, and international organizations.
There are a number of types and manufacturers of ALERT hardware and software, but they are all designed to meet a common set of communications criteria. Because of this, most equipment and programs are interchangeable, which has allowed for competition to improve performance and reduce cost. ALERT systems have become a standard in real time environmental data collection because of their accuracy, reliability, and low cost.