Disaster


“Panic and chaos are inherent in crises. During the critical golden 72 hours the public need ICTs to mitigate the panic but we are still ten years behind and have forgotten history” – says Mr. Naveed Haq. Progress towards resilient ICTs for emergency communication and crisis response remains poor in Asia and the Pacific. The APrIGF “Cry for Help” – “Rapid Restoration of Access to Telecommunication” (RREACT) was designed to engage the audience and a set of experts in discussing issues and strategies for empowering communities with ICT resilience in support of emergencies and crises.
LIRNEasia research fellow, Nuwan Waidyanatha, will be part of a panel discussion on ‘Rapidly Reconnecting the Disconnected in Disasters‘ at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum to be held in Bangkok from 26 to 29 July, 2017. The session, titled “Cry for Help!” is meant to expose participants to low-cost, easy-to-use tech and foster an environment which challenges experts through dialogue and participatory exercises. “Rapid Restoration of Access to Telecommunication” (RREACT) – AP is highly susceptible to disasters. Telecommunications, as a critical infrastructure, is vital for crisis management.
We can offer up systematic reviews. But it seems like a good old fashioned story may be more effective. When the storm hit, some of the younger, more tech-savvy residents had snapped photos of the giant hailstones and the damage they had caused. The photos, of hole-filled roofs and wind-bent buildings, were uploaded to their personal Facebook accounts, and widely shared both in Myanmar and abroad. The first donors to arrive in the village were responding to nothing more than the pictures they had seen on Facebook.
A LIRNEasia report will be the centerpiece of the Workshop on Knowledge and Policy Gaps in Disaster Risk Reduction and Development Planning organized by the ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of ESCAP on 8-9 March 2016, at United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok. Link to workshop information. LIRNEasia will also make presentations on uses of mobile network big data for disaster risk reduction and on improving international backhaul. The MNBD Talk.
We’ve had too many disasters. The tsunami, the LTTE, Nandikadal. And now Koslanda. After the tsunami we asked what could be done to avoid a repeat. We found answers.
A lecture on disaster risk reduction was organized on Thursday 19th June at the Sri Lanka Foundation to consolidate knowledge on the subject in Sri Lanka and share it with other countries, private sector organizations and the general public. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr Stuart Weinstein, Deputy Director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre USA who spoke of the sparse seismic networks and the inadequacies in the tsunami warning system a decade ago. He went on to illustrate the advancements in tsunami warning with the number of warning systems increasing from one to four. Furthermore, the speed at which tsunamis can be detected has improved significantly. (Presentation “Advances in Tsunami Warning Systems Since the Great Sumatra Earthquake of 2004“)  Mr.
Nine and a half years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, I was asked to speak on the role of ICTs in disaster management at the PTC conference in Honolulu. The title says it all: Why it won’t be so bad next time. It was an emotional time and I half-wondered whether I was making claims that were over-ambitious, especially for organizations that were outside government. Today’s LIRNEasia Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture and Discussion at 3:30 PM at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute will provide the answer. It will not be perfect; but it will never be as bad as it was in 2004.
Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan and I participated in the ESCAP consultation that sought input on three documents: a report on the state of optical-fiber-based connectivity in the ASEAN region, a new interactive map of international and domestic fiber cables in Asia and a report by LIRNEasia on resilience of ICT infrastructures. The agenda and links to presentations are here. Following revisions, our report too should be published.
“In a recent article on BBC Future, Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Internet Law at Harvard University, promotes the need for a network that works independently of the ones owned and controlled by the network operators and only in an emergency – something called a mesh network.” – FULL STORY
The government itself has found the early warning actions of the designated national authorities deficient and is talking of setting up workaround mechanisms. Nothing really new, other than sadness that seven years and large commitments of resources have not taken us much farther than we were back in 2004. What is even more worrisome is the lack of knowledge among all the parties about the available modes of communicating early warnings. No mention of cell broadcasting that is capable of delivering location-specific tailored information to all mobile handsets within the range of a base transceiver station. The journalist has done a good job except for repeating misinformation about poor communication infrastructure and access in rural areas.
The P.800 Difficult Percentage (or Difficulty Score) is an International Telecommunications Union Standardization sector recommended method for testing transmission quality in one’s own laboratory. We adopted this method in our feasibility study to enable Freedom Fone for emergency data exchange. The project studied the design challenges for exchanging the Freedom Fone interactive voice data with the Sahana Disaster Management System. This entailed taking situational reports supplied by Sarvodaya Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members in audible (or speech) forms and transforming them to text.
Does this picture remind you of the default Windows XP desktop background? That’s what most of Mongolia looks like. Roughly 40% of the Mongolians live in Ulaanbaartar (UB). The rest are sparsely scattered in thinly populated communities in the vast open terrain. The cultures vary across the desert, meadows, and hills.
Last week, b-mobile subscribers in Bhutan received a message that cell broadcasting had been enabled on the system. It was the same week LIRNEasia recommended that cell broadcasting was the best option for effecting public warning in the mountainous country that is vulnerable to massive flash floods known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).
The Kantale dam breached twenty five years ago, in April 1986. It cost 176 lives, LKR 65 million in relief only, LKR 186 million to repair the dam, uncounted amounts to repair damage to infrastructure, livelihoods and private property and still haunts the survivors. A documentary on Kantale, 19 years later, made in 2005 by Divakar Goswami, serves as a virtual memorial. But do we remember? Have we done what needs to be done to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of our people living in the shadow of the dams?
Sri Lanka, especially the eastern seaboard, is in the midst of a massive flood disaster, said to be on the scale of the tsunami in terms of people affected (1 in 20 citizens according to government data) and perhaps the worst since 1957. Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest community-based organization and a long-term partner, was one of the first to respond based on its strong organizational reach in the worst-affected East. LIRNEasia staff contributions, matched 50% by the organization, amounting to LKR 174,750 will be used for the medical assistance that is being provided to the flood-affected. This is a drop in the bucket, but we are confident it will be used well to help those in distress. A note to friends and colleagues: The floods are far away from Colombo where LIRNEasia staff live.
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.
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