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Consolidating and applying the knowledge generated since 2004 tsunami

This is disaster risk reduction week in Sri Lanka. Nothing official, but we decided some time back that tsunami commemoration is better done in the middle of the year, than in the last week of December when everything, including our brains, shuts down. I learned this from my children’s schools where they celebrate half-birthdays for kids whose birthdays are inconveniently situated.

We have been running the disaster risk-reduction lecture and discussion event since 2010. This year, thanks to the hard work and initiative of Nuwan Waidyanatha, we have a whole week of activities.

Here’s my take, in LBO.LK, on the week’s events:

LIRNEasia, together with multiple partners, engaged in the task of generating and applying knowledge to the problem of disaster risk reduction, primarily in the area of early warning where we believed the benefits would be the greatest. The 4th Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture and Discussion Forum that will be held on the 19th of June at 3:30 PM at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo addresses advances in multiple “links” in the early-warning chain, from the sophisticated science behind improved detection and monitoring of earthquakes and tsunamis to community readiness to receive public warnings and act appropriately.

Back in 2005, we could not predict what specific areas of research would take off, and which ones would not. We had great hope in addressable satellite radio, where committed engineers had devised methods to remotely activate radios and transmit alerts and warnings, even if the instrument was not on, or on a different channel. Different messages could be transmitted to different areas.

The pilot tests were conducted in Sri Lanka; improvements were made; and all was ready to go. But the company that provided the underlying service and operated the satellites went out of business. And with it, out went the prospect of using addressable satellite radio to mobilize first responders.

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) was an unexpected success. I recall exchanging emails with Eliot Christian on including a recommendation on CAP in the NEWS:SL report on an early warning system for Sri Lanka that we released in March 2005, still not fully convinced of its value.

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