Natasha Udu-gama


The Second India Disaster Management Congress (IDMC 2009) took place from 4-6 November at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. It was organized by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) to assemble, synthesize and further disseminate knowledge on disaster management in diverse sectors. Natasha Udu-gama, former HazInfo Dissemination Manager and Researcher, presented “Implementing Inclusive ICTs: Mobile Cell Broadcasting for Public Warning and Commercial Use” based on the LIRNEasia study in the Maldives” completed in May 2009. Her presentation was made during the Early Warning and Disaster Communications session on Friday, 6 November. The session was chaired by Mr.
Maldives, a country of 1,192 islands and 290,000 citizens, is highly dependent on its natural resources. Along with tourism, which provides more than 30 percent of the country’s income, fisheries and agriculture are essential to livelihoods on the country’s 199 inhabited islands. The December 2004 tsunami affected many of its islands and wrought considerable devastation to its infrastructure, particularly telecom. Not only did it destroy shelters, but it affected five major nodes, disrupted service to 13 atolls (163 islands), destroyed power systems and batteries, and damaged radio equipment. Can early warning help save lives?
CB [cell broadcasting] is an intrinsic feature of GSM, UMTS and IS 95 CDMA networks, and is thus available in the two Maldivian networks. But it must be activated. Most handsets are capable of receiving CB messages but the feature must be turned on. However, in the early stages, getting customers to turn on the feature could be an effective way of educating them of mobile-based public warning. Following stakeholder meetings that included sharing of information on the ongoing CB channel-standardization work of Study Group 2 of the Telecommunication Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) and experience in attempting to use CB for public warning in Sri Lanka, the recommendations to TAM are being finalized.
From 13-15 October, 2008, The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with support from the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction – Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning (UNISDR-PPEW) and the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) organized the Second United Nations International UN-SPIDER Workshop on “Disaster Management and Space Technology – Bridging the Gap” in Bonn, Germany. LIRNEasia researcher, Natasha Udu-gama was one of 134 participants representing 49 countries. The 3-day UN-SPIDER  workshop was notable in that it featured a number of German and international presentations on the themes of Session 1: “Space technology in support of risk and disaster management”, Session 2: “Vulnerability and Risk Assessment”, Session 3: “Contributions of space-based technologies to existing and proposed early warning systems”, and Session 4: “Disaster Medicine, Telemedicine and Integrated Vector Management (IVM)”. Natasha Udu-gama presented on “Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” during Session 3 highlighting the usage of WorldSpace Addressable Radios for Emergency Alerts (AREA) systems as appropriate for last-mile hazard information dissemination in the LIRNEasia pilot project “Evaluating Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination”. The presentation also presented sustainability models for WorldSpace in Bangladesh and Indonesia, while demonstrating […]
Natasha Udu-gama has been invited to represent LIRNEasia at the Second International United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response  (UN-SPIDER) Bonn Workshop: “Disaster Management and Space Technology – Bridging the Gap” in Bonn, Germany, from the 13th to 15th October 2008. Natasha will make a presentation on, ‘Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination’ at a session entitled, ‘Contribution of space-based technologies to existing and proposed Early Warning Systems’. This session will examine how public-private partnerships (PPP) centered on space-based technologies can enable the development, establishment and embedding of early warning systems. The event is organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), with the aim of providing a platform for brainstorming and in-depth discussion among decision-makers and experts from both the space technology and disaster management communities, academia and private companies. The UN-SPIDER was established as a programme of the UNOOSA, with the aim of providing universal access to all countries and relevant international and regional organizations to space-based information and services relevant to disaster management.
Few weeks back, I was in Davos, with Peter Anderson and Natasha Udu-gama.  Nuwan Waidyanatha, the man who carried the HazInfo Last Mile Project on his broad shoulders was there in spirit too.  We were there to tell the world about the project and learn about how early warning fits into the big picture of disaster risk reduction. And we did.  Strangely enough, I learned more from one off-print lying on a table than the entire whole conference on the subject that brought me to Davos.
Yesterday, 5 March 2008, LIRNEasia, with its Indonesian partner, the Indonesian Institute for Disaster Preparedness (IIDP), held the final HazInfo workshop at the Hotel Borobudur in Jakarta, Indonesia. The “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-based Last-Mile Warning Systems” workshop included several highlights such as a testimonial from an Aceh survivor of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami; informative presentations from the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), KOGAMI Padang, GTZ-GITEWS, Bureau of Meteorology and Geophysics (BMG) and the University of Syiah Kuala, Aceh. The workshop encouraged animated discussion on the importance of community-based early warning systems, training, and the necessity for information to follow warning.
On 5 March 2008, LIRNEasia in partnership with the Indonesian Institute for Disaster Preparedness (IIDP) will hold the third and final “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-based Last-Mile Warning Systems” workshop at the Hotel Borobodur in Jakarta, Indonesia. Rohan Samarajiva, Natasha Udu-gama and Nuwan Waidyanatha will participate and speak at the event alongside several Indonesian speakers from various governmental, community-based and international NGOs such as BAKORNAS PB, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), KOGAMI Padang and GTZ GITEWS. As in past HazInfo workshops in India and Bangladesh, the Indonesia workshop will not only discuss findings from the “Evaluating Last Mile Hazard Information” pilot project, but also exchange lessons learned from Indonesian counterparts.
The LIRNEasia HazInfo team, Rohan Samarajiva, Nuwan Waidyanatha, Natasha Udu-gama, joined its partners from Sarvodaya, Dialog Telekom and WorldSpace Corporation (India) to present findings from the “Evaluating Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” (HazInfo) pilot project at the “Making Communities Disaster Resilient” on December 11, 2007 during the Third Global Knowledge Partnership (GK3) conference in Kuala Lumpur from 11-13 December. The session, moderated by Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, presented findings and analysis within a 90-minute session divided into two mini-sessions on technology and community. Mr. Michael De Soyza of Dialog Telekom and Mrs.
On Monday, November 19th, Rohan Samarajiva, Nuwan Waidyanatha, and Natasha Udu-gama of LIRNEasia, along with Menake Wijesinghe of Sarvodaya‘s Community Disaster Management Centre went to New Delhi, India for the second in a series of workshops on the “Evaluating Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” (HazInfo) entitled “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-Based Last-Mile Warning Systems” at the India Habitat Centre in conjunction with the All India Disaster Management Centre (AIDMI). The workshop included a variety of stakeholders from Indian government, civil society, international organizations, private sector, and NGOs. Mr. Mihir Bhatt, Honorary Director of AIDMI, along with Mr. Mehul Pandya, Risk Reduction Transfer Initiative Coordinator and Ms.
On October 25, 2007, LIRNEasia’s Rohan Samarajiva, Nuwan Waidyanatha and Natasha Udu-gama traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh to present findings from the “Evaluating Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” (HazInfo) pilot project in the first international dissemination workshop for HazInfo entitled “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-Based Last-Mile Warning Systems” at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) through its Bangladesh Network Office for Urban Safety (BNUS) directed by Dr. Mehedi Ahmed Ansary. The report summarizes the workshop and its sessions. Overall, the workshop was a success in familiarizing the Bangladeshi audience with the HazInfo pilot project and meeting the objectives.
On October 25, 2007, LIRNEasia will hold its first regional dissemination workshop for the “Evaluating Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” (HazInfo) pilot project at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) through its Bangladesh Network Office for Urban Safety (BNUS) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The purpose of the workshop is to gather experts, practitioners and community organizations to discuss the findings of the HazInfo project and determine ways in which the project may be developed to suit community-based hazard information dissemination regionally. The “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-based Last-Mile Warning Systems” workshop in Dhaka will feature five presenters from government, academia and NGOs. Dr. A.