LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Category Archives: Disaster

Sarvodaya Stewardship Towards a Crisis Response SOP

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The two-day workshop (Oct 17 & 18, 2016) in Moratuwa, invited Sarvodaya members from Batticaloa, Colombo, Gampaha, and Kegalle Districts. These participants have first-hand experience responding to the 2016 Western floods & landslide and the 2015 Northeast floods, in Sri Lanka. The objective was to share their tacit knowledge on taking a holistic and practical approach to […]

Nuwan Waidyanatha assists Sarvodaya develop SOPs for disaster response

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LIRNEasia has worked with Sarvodaya, one of Sri Lanka’s well-established community-based organizations, since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. As part of our HazInfo project, they established a disaster response unit and embedded resilience as part of their work plans and training. They had come to think that the government would take the lead in providing […]

What is the role of government in disaster risk reduction and response?

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I spoke today at a workshop for media personnel organized by the Ministry of Disaster Management (DM). I just looked to see if I could link to the workshop description on the web. Apparently not. Guess that confirms what I said about the need for the DM Ministry and the DM Center to change the […]

Cell broadcast used in New York City and New Jersey

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We have been talking about cell broadcasting since 2007, at least. The technology has been used in the US before, but it appears this was the first time it was used to catch a suspect. Frank DiGirolamo was stepping out of a Manhattan deli on 37th Street and Seventh Avenue on his way to work […]

Grand challenge: How to minimize impact on livelihoods from disasters

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I am at the University of Washington in Seattle discussing grand challenges in tech policy. When asked to identify a grand challenge in the tech policy space that was uniquely relevant in my own country, I proposed action to minimize impact on livelihoods as described in the piece I wrote after the April Kelani river […]

What Disaster Management Center did right and did not do right

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I was asked by a journalist from the Express Group to comment on the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Center’s use or non-use of available technological solutions, specifically some kind of VSAT facility in Padukka. I said I was not in a position to comment on this, but said I would comment their good use of […]

From Turkey, an idea for disaster response

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It was happenstance that New York Times commentator and US Academic of Turkish origin Zeynep Tufekci was in Turkey when the coup unfolded. Her reflections on the role played by the Internet and social media in defeating the coup are of great interest. But what caught my eye was a simple action mobile operators can […]

Insurance as a critical element in disaster response toolkit

People walk through a flooded road after they moved out from their houses in Biyagama, Sri Lanka May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

We have been kicking around the idea of giving insurance a greater role in disaster risk reduction and response since 2005. Just a few months back I raised the issue at a workshop at UN ESCAP. In an interview with a Sinhala newspaper last week, I said it was a pity we were not anchoring […]

Phase change in the response to Sri Lanka floods

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Our disaster-relief partner Sarvodaya organized a small event at the community center at Pahala Bomiriya to hand over the remainder of the relief supplies to affected families. I was invited to say a few words. I talked about the need to build more resilient communities so that we could respond to hazards better in the […]

LIRNEasia closes its flood donation drive

When the biggest disaster since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami hit close to home, we responded in our customary fashion. We asked for donations to be matched by LIRNEasia and we thought about how we could contribute through knowledge. We remitted the first tranche of cash to our partner, Sarvodaya on 19th May, just as […]

LIRNEasia research cited in SciDev piece on disaster communication

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Nalaka Gunawardene has published a piece in SciDev on the lessons from the floods/landslides. Nuwan Waidyanatha is in the Maldives at this moment advocating that they switch on cell broadcasting in the networks. In Sri Lanka, it’s on, but not used. The Colombo-based ICT research organisation LIRNEasia has also been promoting the use of cell […]

On Sri Lanka’s failure to deploy home-grown disaster-response software

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Sahana was developed by volunteer software engineers under the aegis of the Lanka Software Foundation in the months and years after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It was handed over to an international foundation when I served as Chair of LSF. Nuwan Waidyanatha who cut his teeth on disaster research as part of the Hazinfo […]

UN ESCAP report on Building E Resilience, authored by LIRNEasia

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The report, published in April 2016, covers a range of issues, but is perhaps unique in its emphasis on the potential of big data. This report highlighted some emerging technologies such as the use of Big Data for DRM purposes. It is one that is still being explored but has so far demonstrated immense potential. […]

What should disaster risk reduction priorities be?

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As promised, here is the full piece in FT on the lessons of the latest disaster: When citizens pay no heed to alerts, warnings and evacuation orders, the normal reaction is to blame the citizens or ponder the possibilities of forcible means. But what we learned through our research and from reflective practitioners is that […]

Lessons from the disaster

On May 14th that I retweeted a satellite image of a weather system over Sri Lanka. The tweet said “WEATHER ALERT – Severe rain over #LK will continue for next 24/48hrs. Public cautioned over flash floods & landslides.” The hazard was public knowledge, contrary to some claims now being made. WEATHER ALERT – Severe rain […]

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