Earthquake early warning systems (EEWS) are considered to be an effective, pragmatic, and viable tool for seismic risk reduction in cities. While standard EEWS approaches focus on the real-time estimation of an earthquake’s location and magnitude, innovative developments in EEWS include the capacity for the rapid assessment of damage. Clearly, for all public authorities that are engaged in coordinating emergency activities during and soon after earthquakes, real-time information about the potential damage distribution within a city is invaluable. In this work, we present a first attempt to design an early warning and rapid response procedure for real-time risk assessment. In particular, the procedure uses typical real-time information (i.e., P-wave arrival times and early waveforms) derived from a regional seismic network for locating and evaluating the size of an earthquake, information which in turn is exploited for extracting a risk map representing the potential distribution of damage from a dataset of predicted scenarios compiled for the target city. A feasibility study of the procedure is presented for the city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, which is surrounded by the Kyrgyz seismic network by mimicking the ground motion associated with two historical events that occurred close to Bishkek, namely the 1911 Kemin ( M = 8.2; ±0.2) and the 1885 Belovodsk ( M = 6.9; ±0.5) earthquakes. Various methodologies from previous studies were considered when planning the implementation of the early warning and rapid response procedure for real-time risk assessment: the Satriano et al. (Bull Seismol Soc Am 98(3):1482–1494, 2008 ) approach to real-time earthquake location; the Caprio et al. (Geophys Res Lett 38:L02301, 2011 ) approach for estimating moment magnitude in real time; the EXSIM method for ground motion simulation (Motazedian and Atkinson, Bull Seismol Soc Am 95:995–1010, 2005 ); the Sokolov (Earthquake Spectra 161: 679–694, 2002 ) approach for estimating intensity from Fourier amplitude spectra; and the Tyagunov et al. (Nat Hazard Earth Syst Sci 6:573–586, 2006 ) approach for risk computation. Innovatively, all these methods are jointly applied to assess in real time the seismic risk of a particular target site, namely the city of Bishkek. Finally, the site amplification and vulnerability datasets considered in the proposed methodology are taken from previous studies, i.e., Parolai et al. (Bull Seismol Soc Am, 2010 ) and Bindi et al. (Soil Dyn Earthq Eng, 2011 ), respectively. ©2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.