Early warning: still hung up on sirens. Why not cell broadcasting?

Posted on January 28, 2010  /  2 Comments

It is disappointing to see sirens still being promoted despite the demonstrated problems. And I think Kogami was present at the HazInfo dissemination event we held in Jakarta.

Patra Rina Dewi, director of the Tsunami Alert Community (Kogami), a nongovernmental organisation working on disaster mitigation training for communities, said the knowledge people most need is whether an earthquake has the potential to become a tsunami.

The current standard for this is an earthquake that occurs less than ten kilometres below the seafloor and is recorded as more than seven on the Richter scale.

“But this kind of information should be translated into easy information for the people,” said Patra.

She added that the most effective warning method is sirens, but these are often of limited number and can be heard only at a distance of about one kilometre.

In most countries (few exceptions being North Korea, Burma/Myanmar, Papua New Guinea), mobile penetration is broad enough that cell broadcasting would be superior. Not that you cannot have a few strategically placed towers so the objectives of security theater and commissions from construction can also be satisfied.


  1. With respect to Haiti, a lot of the discussion on the use of mobile phones has been on m-donations (see the related LIRNEasia post HERE ), as this article points out texting has been instrumental in letting relief agencies know where help is needed:
    “he choice to base the emergency network on text messaging was because of the damage Haiti’s telecommunications system suffered in the quake. Fallen cell towers and overloaded networks made telephone calls nearly impossible.

    However, text messaging was still available and widely used among Haitians trying to locate friends and loved ones among the rubble. (Text messages are not as “bandwidth heavy” as phone calls are, Mr. Bank said.)

    Even the least sophisticated of cellphones has a text-messaging option, noted Josh Nesbit, co-founder of FrontlineSMS:Medic, an aid group that provides free open-source software communication for medical workers in developing countries. He helped set up the Haiti emergency program.”

    Read the entire article HERE