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The Vanguard Foundation and LIRNEasia held an Expert Consultation, on January 26th 2005 (Crystal Room, Taj Hotel, Colombo Sri Lanka) to obtain views and ideas on a national all-hazards warning system for Sri Lanka. Four presentations were made, providing a broad framework for discussion with participants, to provide input for a concept paper that Vanguard Foundation and LIRNEasia will produce, with recommendations for such a system. This draft concept paper will be available on the web for public comment in the first week of February. The presentations can be viewed by following the links: What Lessons from the 2004 Tsunami? Dr Harsha de Silva, LIRNEasia National Warning System Parameters Prof.

Warning System Expert Consultation

Posted on January 24, 2005  /  0 Comments

Published in The Sunday Times “Vanguard Foundation and LIRNEasia will conduct an expert consultation as a part of the process of developing a concept paper and specifications for a Disaster Warning System with adequate regional and global linkages. We earnestly request those who have expertise in the areas of Disaster Management to take part in this exercise.”

My talk on disaster warning in Honolulu

Posted on January 22, 2005  /  0 Comments

I was on the closing plenary at the Pacific Telecom Council, with Peter Anderson (Simon Fraser University, Canada), Stuart Weinstein (Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Honolulu, USA) and Charlie Kagami (Japan). Plenary Talk Photo The topic was “Disaster warning: how can we get it right the next time?” The talk is What happened in Sri Lanka: And Why it won’t be so bad next time.
Conference on “Higher Education, Information Technology and Sustainable Development: The central role of universities in building knowledge societies in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” January 10-14, 2005, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines I was invited to this event, I think, primarily because of the perception of LIRNE.NET as a university-based, effective organization for applying knowledge to problems of ICT4D. The presentation that I made was entitled “LIRNE.NET: ICT4D with or without universities” (Manila Presentation), which should give a clue about what I think of the role of Asian universities in this task. The conference was attended by enthusiastic academics (majority), NGO representatives seeking more support from universities, and education administrators.
The BBC world service programme ASSIGNMENT this week is about the tsunami and emergency communications in Sri Lanka and includes an interview with Rohan. You can hear it at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/meta/tx/nb/assignment_au_nb.
The press conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Washington DC of the World Bank President, Mr. Wolfensohn is available in its entirety via Audio and Video streaming. More details on post-Tsunami reconstruction effort can be found on World Bank’s website. Detailed damage assessments will follow initial estimates WASHINGTON, January 12th, 2005-World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn said Wednesday that reconstruction in the tsunami-hit countries of Asia and Africa must be driven by the local communities affected by the disaster, adding that the process of rebuilding should be transparent and ensure accountability for the funds pledged.

SMS as part of Early Warning System

Posted on January 12, 2005  /  93 Comments

SMS enlisted for Tsunami warning system? By Ben Charny, CNET News.com Monday, January 10 2005 11:55 AM At least five countries have begun developing an alert system using cell phone text messages, a response to the catastrophic Asian tsunami that exposed flaws in present-day early warning schemes. Discussions among officials in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, which were hard hit by the killer tsunami, along with France, have begun in just the last few days, according to a source familiar with the plans. The goal is to supplement older systems that proved little help for nations in the path of the immense waves in late December that have so far killed more than 140,000 people in 11 countries.
Led to the Colombo Regency Rotary Club’s successful web relief operation. This has been featured in Rotary International’s publication, without either of their names . We, in our small way, seek to correct this by this post. Good work, guys. You are appreciated, by us as at least.
Rohan: Vanguard Foundation was recently created which has a center for disaster management. The work I have done at TRC on disaster management will be leveraged in the current context, and we will prepare a document. Pete Anderson is disaster communication expert who will be brought in to design a concept paper to set up parameters of a disaster management system. We are moving very fast on this. Sequence: Disaster happens, analysed, and transmitted in a secure communication mechanism to the media.

Design of eSri Lanka

Posted on January 6, 2005  /  10 Comments

An article describing the thinking behind the design of e Sri Lanka, with emphasis on e government and infrastructure is at . As the title note states, this was a collective design that many contributed to. So, I cannot take credit for the design, though I will have to take responsibility for any errors in the article. This is a good journal for those working on developing country infrastructure issues. Subscribe.
From www.timesonline.com Telecom charity forges links for tsunami victims by Elizabeth Judge Vodafone and its industry peers are backing a new kind of aid for striken areas AS EARLY images of the Asian tsunami disaster were flashed around the world, an aircraft loaded with equipment touched down in Sri Lanka at Colombo international airport. Within minutes, technicians had set up an emergency telecommunications centre with satellite phone lines and high-speed internet connections. Relief organisations were quick to avail themselves of the service.

Tsunami recovery and ICTs

Posted on January 5, 2005  /  11 Comments

Question asked by a journalist: is there any basis for expecting that Sri Lanka’s very successful ICT strategy will in fact help in the economic recovery from the tsunami? For example, could ICT-enabled industries provide opportunities to replace the jobs/industries that have been damaged, or could the telecom structure help speed rebuilding efforts? In other words, have Sri Lanka’s efforts in building a digital economy put it in a better position to recover from this disaster? Answer: The fisheries industry that got almost wiped out had very low productivity. It’ll come back, hopefully with better productivity.
Saving Grace Lanka Business Online 28 December 2004 15:22 hours Thirty six stranded British tourists were rescued in Sri Lanka thanks to a mobile phone with one of them and technology that could pin-point the user, an official involved in the rescue told AFP…. see full story

ICTs and Universities Conference

Posted on January 3, 2005  /  14 Comments

Sujata and I will be participating in a conference in Manila addressing how to get them to focus on ICTs. In light of the Indian Ocean tsunami, there will also be a session on disaster warning, where I will speak. Provisional program is attached. Manila ICT4D and Universities Program Asia Consultation

Tsunami Timeline

Posted on January 2, 2005  /  7 Comments

Attached is a color coded timeline of events related to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that seeks to answer the question “who knew what when?” This Presentation is available as: Flash: Flash Presentation on Tsunami Warnings (Truncated). Flash: Full Flash Presentation Powerpoint:Tsunami Warnings and How We Can Listen and HTML Tsunami Timeline The basic timeline is below. 7:00 AM: Indonesia Reports Earthquake 7:05 AM: Colombo Gets Quake Report 7:14 AM: Honolulu Earthquake Bulletin 7:30 AM: Tsunami Hits Sumatra 8:04 AM: Honolulu Tsunami Warning 8:27 AM: Tsunami Hits Kalmunai 8:55 AM: Tsunami Hits Trinco, Batticaloa, more 9:30 AM: Tsunami Hits Galle, Kalutara, more
The most remarkable perhaps is the story of Nallavadu, whose entire population of 3,600 was saved by a phone call. Nallavadu, along with the other three villages, is involved with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation’s `Information Village Research Project,’ where the MSSRF’s informatics division conducts classes from rural knowledge centres. One of the former volunteers of this programme, Vijayakumar, who now works in Singapore, saw the tsunami warning there.