By Rohan Samarajiva The findings of a pilot project on learning how information-communication technologies and community-based training can help in responding to disasters such as tsunamis were 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” held on March 28th and 29th, 2007 at the Sarvodaya headquarters in Moratuwa. These finding ranged from the difficulties experienced in communicating disaster warnings to villages when mobile GSM and fixed CDMA telecom networks were not functional due to conflict conditions to the importance of not leaving newspapers on top of sensitive electronic equipment which can overheat and shut down as a result. In terms of the five communication technologies that were evaluated across multiple criteria, the addressable satellite radio sets and the java-enabled mobile phones performed the best, with the GSM-based community warning device developed locally by Dialog Telekom, MicroImage and University of Moratuwa following closely. The VSAT based warning system did not perform too well in the tests. The objective was not to declare a winner among the technologies, but to find out how they could be improved to perform reliably in the difficult conditions of Sri […]
Sonal Desai | Mumbai, Mar 27, 2007: Mobile penetration will penetrate the homes of bottom or pyramid (BOP) families in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a study instituted by LIRNEasia has found. Titled, “Teleuse on a Shoestring- A Study of the Financially Constrained in Asia,” it interviewed and maintained diaries of respondents from Thailand and Philippines besides the above mentioned countries. A C Nielsen conducted the fieldwork. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada funded the research.
There is a growing call for the use of open source content standards for all-hazards, all-media alert and notification systems. Content standards such as Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) and others promise to improve the interoperatiblity of hazard information systems at both the internetworking and last-mile stages of distribution. Despite the promise that these standards hold for improved disaster management, there is limited understanding of specific implementation issues and challenges associated with the use of content standards for last-mile alert and notification system. This is especially the case in developing countries, such as Sri Lanka, where community-based hazard information systems are being introduced to complement and extend the functionality of national and regional systems. The Discoveries and Breakthroughs in Science report on “New Disaster Warning Standards” provide the true features of CAP.
The World Dialogue on Regulation (WDR) Expert Forum on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector and Regulatory Performance Indicators will be held from March 2-3, 2007 at the Changi Village Hotel, Singapore. The event is organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), in partnership with LIRNEasia and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. The forum will bring together National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs), National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) and leading operators from the SAARC and ASEAN countries, and will focus on assessing telecommunications regulatory performance and establishing a sustainable system for measuring and benchmarking ICT sector indicators in developing Asia. For more information about this event, email
The Philippine ICT Researchers Network through the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) of the University of the Philippines will be hosting the first international conference on “Living the Information Society: The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on People, Work and Communities in Asia” which will be held on April 23-24, 2007 at the Renaissance Hotel, Makati City, Philippines (program attached). Early registration (download form) for the Conference is now open and entitles the participant to a 20% discount. This conference funded by the International Development Research Centre – Canada,  is being organized in support of the growing community of researchers and practitioners conducting research on the social, cultural, psychological, economic, political, and other transformations brought about by information and communications technologies (ICT) in the Asia-Pacific region. The conference provides a forum for discussing life in the information society. Over 75 papers will be presented by researchers from different countries and disciplines on the usage and effects of ICTs on culture and society.
Three articles on LIRNEasia and its research have appeared in Business Line, one of the leading business newspapers in India belonging to the Hindu group. The most recent one appeared today, focussing on LIRNEasia‘s research activities in the Asian region. The way to go The Hindu Businessline, October 23, 2006 By Ambar Singh Roy […]Founded in September 2004, LIRNEasia (Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies) was initially focused on India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Indonesia. This year, LIRNEasia’s research footprint has been extended to the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan. Says Prof Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director of LIRNEasia: “The Asia-Pacific is a leading region in ICT, both in manufacture and use.
Assume a scenario where among the chief complaint strings of two unrelated patients in the same District on the same date there was a mention of bloody stools in pediatric cases. The multiple mentions of “bloody stools” or “pediatric” might not be surprising, but the tying together of these two factors, given matching geographic locations and timings of reporting, is sufficiently rare that seeing only two such cases is of interest. This was precisely the evidence that was the first noticeable signal of the tragic Walkerton, Canada, waterborne bacterial gastroenteritis outbreak caused by contamination of tap water in May 2000. That weak signal was spotted by an astute physician, not by a surveillance system. Reliable automated detection of such signals in multivariate data requires new analytic approaches.
Thursday Evening, 5:00PM Sri Lanka Foundation Institute 100 Independence Square, Colombo This lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture will address all-hazards warning and the use of the Common Alerting Protocol in disaster mitigation. Gordon Gow is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Extensions at the University of Alberta, Canada. Co-author of the book: “Mobile and Wireless Communication: An Introduction” and most current book: “Policymaking for Critical Infrastructure”. Moreover, he is the communication systems consultant for “Evaluating a last-mile Hazard Dissemination: A Research Project” in Sri Lanka.
LIRNEasia and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with the assitance of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, co-sponsored the “Workshop on ICT Indicators for Benchmarking Performance in Network and Services Development” in New Delhi from 1-3 March 2006. The workshop highlighted the need for accurate, standardized and comparable indicators for the region and was intended to initate action to develop such indicators. The workshop brought together representatives of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) and operators from Afghanistan, Bangaldesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka along with the foremost authorities on the subject from the ITU, OECD, and the US National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI). With nearly 60 participants from 16 countries, the Workshop was also attended by telecom researchers from the Asian region. The three day workshop was intended to elicit the cooperation of representatives from NRAs, NSOs and industry associations from the regional countries in establishing a sustainable system for measuring and benchmarking ICT sector input and output indicators for South Asia that can be extended to developing Asia.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 December 2005: A survey of the websites of National Telecommunication Regulatory Authorities in the Asia Pacific region has revealed that six countries – Australia, Hong Kong, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore – stand above the rest, with Pakistan leading. The research was conducted by LIRNEasia, and supported by the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) as part of the research program on regulatory and sector performance indicators in the ICT [information and communication technology] sector…….. English Press Release: Pakistan leads in providing regulatory services on-line
The Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) organised a seminar on ‘Submarine Cable Connectivity: National Readiness’  in Dhaka on the 2nd of December 2005.  Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director of LIRNEasia delivered the keynote speech at the seminar (read more in The Financial Express and The Daily Star). A short article based on the keynote speech will be published in the national newspapers shortly, through LIRNEasia’s Rapid Response program, supported by IDRC of Canada.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 8 November 2005: An addressable satellite radio system for hazard warning was demonstrated to Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Colombo, Sri Lanka this week. It has been designed by WorldSpace, Inc., in collaboration with Raytheon Corporation of the US, at the request of LIRNEasia, a Sri Lankan research organization. The satellite radio is the first device to incorporate the Common Alert Protocol (CAP).
LIRNEasia’s maiden telecom reform course was successfully completed by 36 participants from 18 countries. The 10th telecom reform course was co-organised with LIRNE.NET, in association with the School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University, and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. Themed ‘Catalyzing change:  Strategies to achieve connectivity and convergence,’ the course took place at the Elizabeth Hotel in Singapore on the 24th-30th September 2005. see pics The course aimed to prepare regulators to face the challenges that lie ahead to achieve connectivity and convergence.
Voices from Asia-Pacific: Internet Governance Priorities and Recommendations: After almost ten months of research and activities, UNDP-APDIP’s Open Regional Dialogue on Internet Governance (ORDIG*) has produced a two-part report entitled, “Voices from Asia-Pacific: Internet Governance Priorities and Recommendations” – consisting of 1) the ORDIG Policy Brief and Executive Summary, and 2) the ORDIG Input Paper for the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). These documents stem from months of consultations involving stakeholder groups from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society. ORDIG consulted over 3,000 stakeholders through sub-regional meetings, jointly organized with UNESCAP and others; a region-wide online forum that allowed for open and candid discussions on the issues; and a region-wide, multi-lingual, issues-based online survey that looked at the Internet governance priorities of the region. The resulting two reports are the synthesis, consolidation, and reading of the voices from the Asia-Pacific region. They outline the principles and dimensions that make up the framework for building recommendations, which are provided in the documents at two levels – general and specific recommendations.
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.

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.