We generally credit smartphones for making camera and audiovisual players irrelevant. But we often forget that every smartphone is also, by default, a GPS receiver. Quite correct, if not precise, latitude and longitude of the device is being instantaneously updated and displayed. This standard feature is embedded in every smartphone regardless being Android or iOS. It has prompted Battalgazi Yildirim, a (literally young Turk) geophysicist from Stanford, developing a mobile-based IoT application named Zizmos for earthquake’s early warning system.
It was barely a month after LIRNEasia conducted a course on broadband policy and regulation in Nagarkot, that Nepal was affected by the Ghorka Earthquake. Our hearts went out for the people of Nepal who suffered from a series of tremblors, power and communication outages and many difficulties. We managed to convey some support for the immediate relief activities undertaken by our partner, the Internet Society of Nepal. But we concluded that what would be most valuable would be a contribution in the form of an assessment of how the communication system stood up to the earthquake and what lessons could be learned to make networks more resilient. That report, based on field visits and extensive consultations with those who directly experienced the problems, is now public here.
Government of Nepal, mostly under the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, is on a mission to strengthen their national emergency communications. They are facilitating a multi-agency approach to promoting the development of a National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). Members of the Nepal Emergency Telecommunications Cluster are contributing to the NECP. The Emergency telecommunications Cluster was formed after the earthquake to bring back communications in support of humanitarian operations (ISOC Nepal attended those meetings). The Government of Nepal has recognized the importance of ICT as a cross-cutting issue in emergency communications for saving lives.
Many people I care for live in Nepal. Less than a month ago I was teaching in Nagarkot, in the hills about an hour out of Kathmandu. I recognize some of the buildings with cracks that come on the TV screen. I receive the tweets that say #prayforNepal. I wonder, who does one pray to?
We are saddened by the multiple tragedies of the earthquake, dam break, nuclear station problem, local tsunami and teletsunami. We offer our condolences to the victims and our admiration and encouragement to the brave men and women doing the hard work of providing succor to the survivors. More concretely, we are working on a media note summarizing lessons from our post 2004 tsunami research, which was on risk reduction, not on relief and recovery. Here below is a excerpt from the note. The full text is Pacific tsunami revised.
What we want to do next in our disaster work is to train the inhabitants of coastal villages and the staff of coastal hotels to develop and rehearse annually risk reduction plans. The Chile experience shows the value. Still, Chile’s earthquake preparedness clearly saved lives. Laura Torres, 62, and her husband, Víctor Campos, 66, live in Constitución, a city flanked by the ocean and a river. When they quake struck, the earth shook so violently they could not stand.
Lots of people talk about predicting earthquakes. Here’s the science. Why should we be in interested in earthquake prediction? Because we live in a bad neighborhood: there has been a tsunamigenic earthquake every year, except 2008, since 2004 in the Sunda Trench. Until the prediction issue is resolved all we can do is focus on warning and preparedness.
In our work on dam safety, we found there was widespread fear about the big dams of the Mahaveli scheme causing geological instability in the central hills. The following report on the possibility that the weight of water from a Sichuan Province dam caused last year’s earthquake, will fuel those fears. Nearly nine months after a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, left 80,000 people dead or missing, a growing number of American and Chinese scientists are suggesting that the calamity was triggered by a four-year-old reservoir built close to the earthquake’s geological fault line. A Columbia University scientist who studied the quake has said that it may have been triggered by the weight of 320 million tons of water in the Zipingpu Reservoir less than a mile from a well-known major fault. His conclusions, presented to the American Geophysical Union in December, coincide with a new finding by Chinese geophysicists that the dam caused significant seismic changes before the earthquake.
Is accurate early warning possible for earthquakes? Chinese authorities have said they did not pick up any warning signs ahead of Monday’s earthquake. “Monitoring before the earthquake did not detect any macroscopic abnormalities, and did not catch any relevant information,” Deng Changwen, deputy head of Sichuan province’s earthquake department, said. AlJazeera.net | No Early Warning
Indonesia has learnt lessons from dealing with a string of earthquakes, but still can do more to reduce the impact of such disasters by quake proofing buildings and deploying more tsunami buoys, officials said on Wednesday. An official at Indonesia’s National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management said there had been progress in educating people since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that followed a huge quake off Aceh province and killed nearly 170,000 Indonesians. Read more Reuters Alertnet | Indonesia disaster preparedness a work in progress
On 12 September 2007 the Tamil Nadu Government asked the coastal districts to remain on alert following fears of tsunami in the wake of the 7.9 magnitude powerful earthquake that rocked Sumatra near Indonesia. After the Union Home Ministry sounded an alert, the State Government instructed the district collectors of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Kanniyakumari to remain on high alert to meet any eventuality. On being alerted, the district administrations sounded the alert. In the aftermath of the events following the alert a lightning survey was conducted by the Academy for Disaster Management Education, Planning and Training’s (ADEPT) community volunteers (Community Support Leaders or CSLs).
The Minister is to be commended for initiating the review of the alert process that went from alert to evacuation in minutes. Sri Lanka News | Online edition of Daily News – Lakehouse Newspapers Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, called for an immediate review of the tsunami alert process that was put into operation on September 12 to learn from the experience and refine procedures the Disaster Management and Human Rights Ministry in a release said.He stated that the successful exercise could prove a platform for future improvements to the early warning process making it more effective and efficient.
It has been a practice at LIRNEasia to write an assessment of the responses to potentially tsunamigenic events in the region. We commented on Nias and Pangandaran. Now that the discussion on the response is starting, here is our take: Lessons from the Sri Lanka tsunami warnings and evacuation of September 12-13, 2007 The tragedy of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was the absence of any official warning. The September 12th Bengkulu earthquake shows that this is unlikely to be the case in the future. We have seen that the new institutions created since the 2004 tsunami have the will and the capacity to act.
Japan planning world’s first nationwide earthquake warning system – International Herald Tribune It’s still beyond the reach of science to predict exactly when an earthquake will strike, but Japan will soon get the next-best thing — televised warnings that come before the shaking starts. In an ambitious attempt at protecting large populations from seismic disaster, Japan’s Meteorological Agency and national broadcaster are teaming up to alert the public of earthquakes as much as 30 seconds before they hit, or at least before they can bring their full force down on populated areas. The system — the first of its kind in the world — cannot actually predict quakes, but officials say it can give people enough time to get away from windows that could shatter, or turn off ovens and prevent fires from razing homes. Powered by ScribeFire.
The strong quake off Taiwan’s coast on December 26 damaged six separate submarine cables and severely disrupted telecom links in the East, Southeast and South Asia. Internet connectivity in a number of countries are either down or are slowed down thanks to taffic that is being rerouted over networks that have escaped damage. Most of Jakarta (Indonesia) and Pondicherry (Southern India) have been without Internet until this afternoon (Dec 27) at least. In our office in Sri Lanka, SLT’s ADSL connection (though congested) is working. However, Lankacom’s leased line is down since it probably connects to the Internet backbone via Singapore.
Developing countries have tended to focus on disaster relief and rehabilitation at the expense of strategies to prevent or mitigate effects of disasters in the first place. To a politician, the political payout from handing out relief materials to the disaster affected appears greater than investing in a national early warning system that may not yield any political reward during his/her tenure. Political expediency coupled with a mix of fatalism, laziness to undertake the hardwork required to implement mitigation/prevention strategies, low valued assigned to human life in developing countries have all contributed to the callous acceptance of natural disasters as a “fact of life.” Hence, the allusion to a “paradigm shift” referred to by the Indian minister, hopefully marks a policy shift rather than just a rhetorical one. ———— India, others work on region’s first disaster management policy The Hindu, August 22, 2006 New Delhi, Aug 22.