Disaster Risk Reduction: Is Europe different?

Posted on November 26, 2009  /  2 Comments

Brussels, Nov 25-26 – Third Civil Protection Forum organized by the European Commission. It rains heavily, but fortunately no floods as in Ireland. Ideal environment to discuss disaster risks. I speak at Seminar F titled ‘Innovative Technology for Disaster Management’. I am one of the two speakers from Asia in the entire conference; the other is from Japan.

I am skeptic how they would take my presentation – all Asian experiences to an almost hundred percent European audience except for two gentlemen from Botswana. Developed vs. Developing world. Connected vs. Unconnected. Are the issues similar? Or is it a different scenario?

I am glad we find some common ground. Bridging last mile isn’t an issue as serious as in Asia, but ‘Cell Broadcasting’ generates an interest. A DRR professional from audience talks about their efforts to introduce the same in France, with some success. One gentleman from Botswana asks why not in Africa. He is also interested in SMS based solutions. I introduce the Sahana SMS module to him.

Other than that, the discussion focuses more on the issues technology creates, rather than ones it solves. They talk about ‘over dependence’ on technology and the problems old find using technology. “Technology is fine, but KISS” (Keep It Simple and Stupid) says one speaker.

One pleasant surprise was to find the Director General, Civil Protection, Netherlands highlighting the benefits of Cell Broadcasting in the closing session. I am not sure whether he attended Seminar F.

Download my presentation slides from here.


  1. Great to hear that CB is still generating interest. A phone warning system has recently been set up in Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/02/2759416.htm?section=justin. But they’re still using SMS!