Drought and crop failure can often be predicted by monitoring the weather and measuring soil moisture. But other risk factors, such as socio-economic problems or violent conflicts, can endanger food security too.

For organisations such as Doctors without Borders (MSF), it is crucial to obtain information about vulnerable regions as soon as possible, so that they have a chance to provide help before it is too late.

The system developed by scientists at Vienna University of Technology and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, has yielded promising results during tests in the Central African Republic."Today, smartphones are available even in developing countries, and so we decided to develop an app, which we called SATIDA COLLECT, to help us collect the necessary data," said IIASA-based app developer Mathias Karner.