Colombo, Sri Lanka, 8 November 2005: An addressable satellite radio system for hazard warning was demonstrated to Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Colombo, Sri Lanka this week.
It has been designed by WorldSpace, Inc., in collaboration with Raytheon Corporation of the US, at the request of LIRNEasia, a Sri Lankan research organization.
The satellite radio is the first device to incorporate the Common Alert Protocol (CAP). The radio set can be switched on from the master control, and converted from a conventional radio to a specialized hazard alert system. The equipment was field tested in Sri Lanka, including at several Sarvodaya villages that were affected by the Asian Tsunami of December 2004.
It was apt that the first demonstration of this new technology involved Sir Arthur – who first proposed the idea of communications satellites in geostationary orbit exactly 60 years ago. WorldSpace uses satellites in this ‘Clarke Orbit’ to transmit high quality digital broadcasts.
The latest innovation will place satellite communications in the service of hazard warning through a low cost, low maintenance radio set capable of receiving WorldSpace transmissions.
Sir Arthur said: “The best tribute we can pay to all who perished or suffered in this disaster is to heed its powerful lessons. We need to address the long-term issues of better disaster preparedness, functional early warning systems and realistic arrangements to cope with not just tsunamis, but a multitude of other hazards.”
He added: “Technology can certainly be part of that solution, but in the end, it depends critically on sound management and nations working together.”
The addressable satellite radio system is able to issue focused warnings directly addressed to those communities at risk from hazards like tsunamis, cyclones, floods, dam breaches, etc. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology incorporated into the radio set along with the unique code assigned to every receiver allows for hazard warnings to be issued to sets that are within a vulnerable area or just to radio sets with specific assigned codes. It is also possible to personalize and target the message to the vulnerable communities.
This unique addressable satellite radio system was developed to meet the specific needs of LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya’s initiative to make 226 Sri Lankan coastal villages disaster resilient.
These villages, stretching from the Jaffna district in the North to the Matara district in the South, were all affected by the tsunami.
The project will deploy “last-mile” hazard warning systems — including addressable satellite radio systems — in coastal villages in Sri Lanka. In the aftermath of the tsunami, LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya identified the urgent need for a hazard warning system that is able to deliver hazard information over the last mile–that is to the people at risk no matter where they are and irrespective of the hazard. Negotiations are nearing completion on obtaining the necessary funds from a special tsunami research fund at the International Development Research Centre of Canada.
Sir Arthur Clarke met with the Senior Vice Presidents, Dr. Wilson Baker and Dr. S. Rangarajan along with Account Manager, Jomo Bellard from WorldSpace Inc. and the Executive Director, Dr. Rohan Samarajiva and Director of Organizational Development and Projects, Divakar Goswami from LIRNEasia.