Sahana


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 way they think about the web and associated new media. My slideset is here.
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 DEWN and their inexplicable non-use of Sahana. Both DEWN and Sahana were technological solutions developed within Sri Lanka by Sri Lankans in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. DEWN is a CAP-compliant robust method for communicating with first responders. It was handed over to the DMC in 2009 and has been well used since.
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 project, is now a leading trainer and part of the team guiding development of Sahana. Despite my best efforts to get those involved in the early development of the software interviewed for this story (triggered by one of my tweets), we are the only sources for information on Sahana in this Sunday Times story. There are allegations that the authorities could have utilised locally-available systems that could have helped to better coordinate disaster relief efforts.
Based on writing and interviews done in June 2015 in the context of LIRNEasia’s events organized to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 2004 http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2014/12/22/Contributing-to-global-knowledge/. The first multilingual trials of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) – a data format for exchanging public warnings and emergencies between alerting technologies – were carried out in Sri Lanka as part of the Hazard Information Project funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre.
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.
The usefulness and ease-of-use of interactive voice, with Freedom Fone, for Sarvodaya Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members to supply incident information was blogged two weeks back. Now the question is “how is all that information put to use in responding to those incidents?”. In here we tell parts of that story. CERT members call one of the four telephone numbers to access Freedom Fone; then press the “reporting” menu item number on their phone keypad to record a “field observation report”.
We conducted controlled-exercises, with Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya (Sarvodaya) Hazard Information Hub (HIH) Operators and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members. The HIH data center is in Moratuwa. The study using interactive voice, field tested the technology in  Colombo, Matara, Nuwara-eliya, and Ratnapura Districts. Figure to the left shows an average ease-of-use of 3.95 and usefulness of 4.
The Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) information communication system comprises an upstream health data submission by last-mile health workers, data processing by epidemiologist, and downstream alerting by health officials.There are four components to the RTBP software: mobile phone application, desktop web application, database, T-Cube analytic tools, and Common Alerting Protocol messaging. The individual components are to be developed by Rural Technology and Business Incubator, Respere (Private) Limited, and Auton Lab. Following are the four software requirement specification documents – 1) Sahana biosurveillance module (database and desktop web application) 2) Mobile J2ME application (data collection) 3) T-Cube web interface (analysis and event detection) 4) Sahana Common Alerting Protocol Messaging Module (publishing SMS/Email/Web alerts)
Four years to history, ‘Your tears are mine’ (see below) was my reaction to Asian tsunami. Reproduced in multiple sites, it was recited once in a remembrance event. Though written more in a Sri Lankan context, let me pick it again today, to remember all 225,000 lives lost, in the worst tsunami in recent history – that caused vast damage to four countries LIRNEasia closely works in, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. Not my every wish was granted. The aftermath of tsunami, instead of creating a division-free society demonstrated how pathetically the disparities were amplified.
“We must realize the fact that disasters threaten sustained economic growth of the society and the country.” These were the words of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani addressing the opening ceremony of the first National Disaster Risk Management Conference. The function, reported Associated Press of Pakistan, was organized to mark the Disaster Awareness Day observed annually after the catastrophic earthquake which struck country’s northern areas in October 2005, killing 73,000 people and leaving 3.5 million homeless. On the other side of the border Congress President Sonia Gandhi has said there is a need of effective disaster management to mitigate the woes of the people in future calamities, with floods affecting several districts of Bihar and other parts of the country.