NEWS:SL [National Early Warning System: Sri Lanka] was presented to the �Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Inquire into Matters Relating to the Conduct of Relevant State Institutions/Agencies Following the Natural Disasters which Occurred on 26 December 2004, and the Measures that Should be Taken to Improve Early Warning Mechanism for Natural Disasters and Thereby to Prevent or Mitigate Such Devastation� following a presentation of same to the Commission� on March 15 2005, less than three months after the greatest catastrophe faced by Sri Lanka in modern times. The salient features of the Concept Paper were presented to the Commission, in addition several other research findings relevant to the Commission. The importance of an all-hazards approach was stressed and governance model options were discussed. Recommendations on actions that are needed by government were made and intended actions by the Vanguard Foundation were presented. Commission members, retired Supreme Court Judge H.
English Press Release English Background & Executive Summary Sinhala Press Release
Sinhala Tamil

Parliamentary Select Committee

Posted on March 26, 2005  /  0 Comments

Our colleague, Nishantha Kamaladasa, Director of the Center for Housing Planning and Building, testified before the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Tsunami on March 7th, 2005. The difficult-to-find and oddly named website of the Select Committee is at http://www.srilankanparliamentonnaturaldisasters.org/Sixth%20Meeting.htm The sixth meeting contains the slides and text of Nishantha’s presentation.
It has been three months since Sri Lanka lost 40,000 valuable lives and the Indian Ocean region 300,000. Given below is the e-mail message that LIRNEasia sent to its friends and well wishers on this sad day of remembrance. It is being posted here in case we missed your e-mail address or got it wrong. Three-month alms giving in remembrance of the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami Prompt action to establish an effective National Early Warning System is the best memorial we can build to the 40,000 valuable lives that were swept away for the lack of a few minutes of warning and a little awareness.—NEWS:SL Concept Paper It is customary in Sri Lanka to offer a dana (an alms giving wherein offerings are made to monks and the resulting merit is offered to the departed) three months after the death of a dear one.

National Early Warning System

Posted on March 7, 2005  /  11 Comments

National Early Warning System: Sri Lanka (NEWS:SL):  A Participatory Concept Paper for the Design of an Effective All-Hazard Public Warning System (Version 2.1) Annexes: A Participatory Concept Paper for the Design of an Effective All-Hazard Public Warning System (Version 2.1)   *Executive Summary*# *The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed the lives of one in 500 of Sri Lanka�s people and displaced one in twenty has highlighted the critical importance of an effective National Early Warning System for Sri Lanka (NEWS:SL)*. Meeting this need, which has been discussed (and forgotten) after each of our too frequent disasters such as the cyclones of 1978 and the floods of 2003, can no longer be postponed. # *Public warning is a system, not a technology*.
By Payal Malik In his budget speech the Finance Minister of India promised a release of Rs. 1,200 crores (USD 275 million) for the Universal Service Fund. While it is heartening that the funds are being released and are not being gobbled by the Contingency Fund of India, what is however disheartening is that competition and liberalisation has not achieved its full potential in bridging the rural urban divde and like in the monopoly era one has to wait for budgetary pronouncements for rural telephony to jumpstart. An extract from his speech: Telecommunication is the best way to provide connectivity in urban and rural India. By the end of January 2005, we had achieved a tele-density of 8.

Learning from the tsunami

Posted on February 24, 2005  /  2 Comments

*This is a Flash version of the PowerPoint (File/Export in OpenOffice). Please click the image for the next slide. This morning I gave a talk by the above title to a group of senior private sector people at the monthly breakfast meeting of the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors. In contrast to the many presentations I have done in the past few months that focused almost totally on disaster warning, this talk addressed the broader approach to hazards. Suffice to say that the slides include pictures of an ostrich (with due apologies to actual beast who does not hide its head in the sand), chicken little and tweety (with Sylvester lurking in the background).

Colloquium: Virtual Organizations

Posted on February 18, 2005  /  12 Comments

The Virtual Organisation: How do we get there? Divakar: How can we get researchers and participants to engage in LIRNEasia activitites? And sustain these relationships? Money? -this is tough, since we have limited funds Professional development?
Some very important issues on government vs private supply of last-mile access (of the type that will come to the fore in places like Andra) are discussed at: Philly Leads Charge For Wireless (New York Times) Are we ready to discuss anything other than tsunami related stuff?

Monthly column

Posted on February 11, 2005  /  3 Comments

I have agreed to write a column on Choices for Lanka Business Online, starting this month. The first column is up, entitled “Surviving tsunamis: What we can learn from Hawai’i.” Any suggestions, comments, criticisms will be welcome. BTW, a tentative statement in my column (that was written on my flight back from Hawai’i Jan 20-22) has been confirmed: the undersea earthquake responsible for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is now the second largest recorded earthquake at 9.3 on the Richter scale.
A video news conference connecting experts in disaster warning systems in Colombo, Vancouver and Hawaii answered questions posed by the Sri Lankan press and television journalists. This event was organised by LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation on February 10 at the Distance Learning Center on SLIDA’s campus in Colombo. The event was launched by the release of the draft report on a National All Hazard Disaster Warning System written by local and international experts. This draft report emerged from an Expert Consultation that was held in January 26, 2005 where broad input was obtained from Sri Lankans with disaster management expertise, experts in hazard warning and the public who responded to newspaper advertisements. The primary purpose of the video news conference was to discuss the concept paper with the Sri Lankan media in order to give the widest possible publicity to the draft report that was written up on the basis of international best practice and local input.
Comments and suggestions are hereby invited on the interim report: “Specifications of a national all-hazards warning system.” Draft for comment The paper is based on international and local expertise and the input from an expert consultation held on January 26th, 2005. All comments received prior to February 19th will be taken into account in finalizing the report. It is intended that the final report will be handed over to the appropriate authorities in government on or around the 26th of February, 2005, two months to the day from Sri Lanka’s greatest calamity. Comments may be submitted in the comment space below, or alternatively emailed to asia@lirne.

India

Posted on February 4, 2005  /  3 Comments

Mass computing’s next big thing runs into an archaic law that bans outdoor use of Wi-Fi Thakkar RESHMA PATIL & PRAGYA SINGH Posted online: Sunday, February 06, 2005 at 0154 hours IST Indian Express MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, FEB 5: When tech entrepreneur Jayesh Thakkar geared to connect computers—without wires—20 km away in two Vadodara offices, his corporate client first applied for a licence. They have been waiting for a year. At Mumbai, a construction giant is waiting since nine months for permission to wirelessly connect offices in two suburbs. […] ‘‘Most big corporates stay away from outdoor WiFi use because licences are cumbersome and bureaucratic,’’ says Thakkar, director, JayRaj Exim, a company WiFi-enabling offices in Mumbai. ‘‘By the time a licence arrives, what if the technology is outdated?

India

Posted on  /  3 Comments

Mass computing’s next big thing runs into an archaic law that bans outdoor use of Wi-Fi Thakkar RESHMA PATIL & PRAGYA SINGH Posted online: Sunday, February 06, 2005 at 0154 hours IST Indian Express MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, FEB 5: When tech entrepreneur Jayesh Thakkar geared to connect computers—without wires—20 km away in two Vadodara offices, his corporate client first applied for a licence. They have been waiting for a year. At Mumbai, a construction giant is waiting since nine months for permission to wirelessly connect offices in two suburbs. […] ‘‘Most big corporates stay away from outdoor WiFi use because licences are cumbersome and bureaucratic,’’ says Thakkar, director, JayRaj Exim, a company WiFi-enabling offices in Mumbai. ‘‘By the time a licence arrives, what if the technology is outdated?

Arthur Clarke on ICTs & Disasters

Posted on February 3, 2005  /  0 Comments

I knew that Sir Arthur Clarke was interested in disaster preparedness from the time I and my colleagues Nihal Kularatne and Shantha Fernando organized a ICTs and disaster warnings workshop for the Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Modern Technologies back in 1986 in Colombo. Here is evidence he is still in the game: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.