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Making emergency communication effective: 3rd LIRNEasia Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture

The 3rd LIRNEasia Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture will be held on 19 June 2012, Tuesday at 1500 hrs at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, 100 Independence Square, Colombo 7.

The main talk by LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow Nuwan Waidyanatha on “making emergency communication effective” will complement the opening presentation by the Director General of the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Center on the Sri Lankan tsunami warning system. It will highlight how the DMC can better perform its role in emergency communication and coordination.

There are complexities in managing multiple agencies and offering a common platform to manage all-hazards all-media alerting and reporting. Possibly the harder problem may be the social elements. These can be overcome through the use of globally accepted interoperable and standardized technology such as the Common Alerting Protocol-enabled Sahana Alerting/Messaging Module. The Free and Open Source Sahana system has matured since its inception in 2005. The lecture discusses how the Sahana system may be integrated with the DMC’s Call Center and Interactive Voice Response system.

The introduction of a registry of alerting authorities and implementation of the alerting and messaging broker would allow the DMC to regulate and assist in coordinating emergencies of all scale. The software would allow the DMC to build a database of macro and micro incidents that can be leveraged as evidence of an active climate change adaptation policy.

It has been proven in many cases that such broker software can help break the silos and foster lateral information share between organizations. It would be one step in moving away from the finger-pointing game and in bringing relevant Government agencies under a single platform and framework in relation to alerting and situational-reporting.

Recently, LIRNEasia pilot tested a call center and Sahana-based ICT system for alerting and reporting. The lessons from this research come at a good time with the DMC investments in the CISCO call center. The other speakers: Prof. Dileeka Dias, Dr. Buddhi Weerasinghe, and Mr. Mifan Careem will discuss their past and future involvements with the Ministry of Disaster Management.

The 10 minute video titled “Do You Hear Me?” will be screened to demonstrate the local need for voice-enabled emergency communication the overview of the recently field tested Sahana based solution. The video is available here

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