Every disaster and every false-warning incident is a learning opportunity. We have done these kinds of assessments after many disasters and false warnings sometimes at great length, as in the case of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and sometimes simply through a blog post. Our focus has been on naturally occurring hazards, but the recent false warning in Hawai’i was about an incoming ballistic missile. But since it was communicated over the Wireless Emergency Alert system or cell broadcasting, which we have been writing about since 2008 at least. The New York Times said: “The false alert was a stark reminder of what happens when the old realities of the nuclear age collide with the speed — and the potential for error — inherent in the internet age.
We are saddened by the multiple tragedies of the earthquake, dam break, nuclear station problem, local tsunami and teletsunami. We offer our condolences to the victims and our admiration and encouragement to the brave men and women doing the hard work of providing succor to the survivors. More concretely, we are working on a media note summarizing lessons from our post 2004 tsunami research, which was on risk reduction, not on relief and recovery. Here below is a excerpt from the note. The full text is Pacific tsunami revised.
By Aileen Aguero, former Research Intern, LIRNEasia As an intern at LIRNEasia, I had the opportunity of working with Harsha de Silva in writing a paper called Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) Expenditure Patterns on Mobile Phone Services in Selected Emerging Asian Countries. I presented this paper at the Pacific Telecommunications Conference, held on 17 – 20 January in Honolulu, Hawaii. The 2010 edition of this conference tried to emphasize the benefits innovation provides as well as the challenges faced by developing economies in connecting the unconnected and the adequate provision of systems and services. Our paper was part of Breakout Session 7: Building for Sustainability – ICTs in the Developing World, held on 19 January (paper and slides available here). Elizabeth Fife, Bruce Baikie, Laina Reveendran and Laura Hosman were also part of this panel.
A new service where patients can consult doctors over webcams is starting up in Hawai’i. The full article discusses weaknesses and strengths. Patients use the service by logging on to participating health plans’ Web sites. Doctors hold 10-minute appointments, which can be extended for a fee, and can file prescriptions and view patients’ medical histories through the system. American Well is working with HealthVault, Microsoft’s electronic medical records service, and ActiveHealth Management, a subsidiary of Aetna, which scans patients’ medical history for gaps in their previous care and alerts doctors during their American Well appointment.
Telecom Cook Islands Ltd, the sole provider of telecommunications in the Cook Islands, has completed commercial deployment of ADC’s UltraWave GSM softswitch. Telecom Cook Islands, which has been in operation since July 1991, is a private company owned by Telecom New Zealand Ltd. (60%) and the Cook Islands Government (40%). The new softswitch – which upgrades Telecom Cook’s core wireless network to more efficient, IP-based technology in order to reduce costs and enable value-added services such as integrated SMS, voicemail, GPRS and pre-paid calling, has been in deployment since September 2007, and the final network cutover was accomplished last week. The UltraWave solution includes an overall expansion of the network’s capacity to 15,000 from 8,000 GSM subscribers.
[Tsunami Warning – IOC] WCATWC Message PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE PARAMETERS MAGNITUDE – 7.7 TIME – 0214 AKST NOV 15 2006 0314 PST NOV 15 2006 1114 UTC NOV 15 2006 LOCATION – 46.7 NORTH 153.5 EAST – KURIL ISLANDS DEPTH – 21 MILES THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER IN EWA BEACH HAWAII HAS ISSUED A TSUNAMI WARNING FOR AREAS OF THE PACIFIC OUTSIDE OF CALIFORNIA/ OREGON/ WASHINGTON/ BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ALASKA. As Japan braces: Tech-related tsunami resources By Paul McNamara on Wed, 11/15/2006 – 8:52am The information and warning systems didn’t always work flawlessly, Japanese officials acknowledge.
LIRNEasia HazInfo project partner Nalaka Gunawardene has written an excellent piece on ICTs and disasters, referring in some detail to the ongoing HazInfo project. Bridging the long ‘last mile’ in Sri Lanka / 2006/4 / Media Development / Publications / Home – World Association for Christian Communication While the countries of South and Southeast Asia were largely unprepared to act on the tsunami, it was not really a complete surprise. As the killer waves originating from the ocean near Indonesia’s Sumatra Island radiated across the Indian Ocean at the speed of a jetliner, the alert about the impending tsunami moved through the Internet at the speed of light. Scientists at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Hawaii, who had detected the extraordinary seismic activity, issued a local tsunami warning one hour and five minutes after the undersea quake. That was a bit too late for Indonesia – which, being closest to the quake’s epicentre, was already hit – but it could have made a difference in countries further away, such as India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
By Laura Smith-Spark BBC News Eighteen months after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, hundreds have died after a giant wave struck the Indonesian island of Java. Their deaths have raised questions about the failure of a promised Indian Ocean tsunami early warning system to sound an adequate alert. More than 300 people died and about 140 were reported missing after the tsunami struck Java’s southern coast on Monday. Witnesses have said people had little or no warning to flee the 2m-high wave triggered by an undersea earthquake.
BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4988492.stm More than 30 countries around the Pacific Ocean have tested a system to warn them of approaching tsunamis.
Ten preliminary lessons of the 28th March 2005 Sumatra great earthquake (Photo Source) LIRNEasia, together with Vanguard Foundation, intends to systematically analyze the Sri Lankan media response to the great earthquake of the 28th of March. However, it appears useful to draw some preliminary lessons from this tragedy which has cost over 1,000 lives, including the people of Nias and other islands and those in Sri Lanka and elsewhere who died as a result of the warnings. The conclusions are preliminary; comments are welcome. # Earthquake hazard detection is easy; tsunami hazard detection is not. One cannot simply infer the existence of a destructive tsunami from an earthquake.
A video news conference connecting experts in disaster warning systems in Colombo, Vancouver and Hawaii answered questions posed by the Sri Lankan press and television journalists. This event was organised by LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation on February 10 at the Distance Learning Center on SLIDA’s campus in Colombo. The event was launched by the release of the draft report on a National All Hazard Disaster Warning System written by local and international experts. This draft report emerged from an Expert Consultation that was held in January 26, 2005 where broad input was obtained from Sri Lankans with disaster management expertise, experts in hazard warning and the public who responded to newspaper advertisements. The primary purpose of the video news conference was to discuss the concept paper with the Sri Lankan media in order to give the widest possible publicity to the draft report that was written up on the basis of international best practice and local input.
The original purpose of the visit was to participate in a super session on Strategies for implementing universal access. The session was well attended and useful. My presentation was Expanding Access to ICTs (Powerpoint) Along with Bill Melodys forceful comments it clearly established the importance of market and regulatory reforms, a position that may otherwise have been deemphasized as a result of the Chairs interest in subsidies. The visit was also used to pursue the disaster warning-communication issues that have come to the fore in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. On the 18th of January I visited the Big Islands Civil Defense Emergency Operations Center and the Pacific Tsunami Museum accompanied by Bill Melody and at the invitation of Dr George Curtis, a tsunami expert at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.