Serving Sri Lanka: Indian Ocean tsunami warning capabilities improving
Addressable satellite radio sets were found to be the best alerting technology of the community disaster warning pilot project conducted by LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya. Java enabled mobile phones which has a wake up siren came next. The GSM based remote alarm device developed locally by Dialog Telekom, MicroImage and University of Moratuwa followed closely. It has both light and siren.Findings of this project on learning how information-communication technologies and community based training can help in tsunami and other disaster situations had been discussed by community leaders and international experts at a workshop on “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning with a Focus on Community-Based Last-Mile Warning Systems” at the Sarvodaya Headquarters in Moratuwa recently. Difficulties had been experienced in communicating disaster warning to villages when mobile and fixed CDMA telecom networks were not functioning in conflict conditions. Also, the importance of not leaving newspapers on top of sensitive electronic equipment which can overheat and shutdown had been noted. The VSAT based warning system had not run well in the tests.
“This is proto-type technology, using chosen groups to alert particular communities in particular villages,” explained Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director, LIRNEasia, at the press conference held on Friday at the Institute for Construction Training and Development (ICTAD).
“We are not into the mass market. This is a community leader’s programme and not a home product.” The cost consideration differed from that of a home-based product, he said. “When the cost factor is considered, java-enabled mobile phones are the best,” he said. The emphasis of the project had been on community involvement with an accent on contingency planning including evacuation preparedness. This could avoid panicking, stampedes, heart-attacks and pre-mature child births likely in such a situation, Prof. Samarajiva said.
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