:The Daily Star: Internet Edition Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest community-based organisation, and LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy think-tank, collaborated on a 32-village pilot project that sought to identify the best technologies for reaching villages; to identify the significance of organisational strength and training for risk reduction; and to assess the participation of women in these activities.The community-based approach implemented in the project is different from a public-warning approach, but has lessons for government communications with first responders and for community organisation and training as well. For example, the project field tested addressable and remotely activated satellite radios that have coverage over the entire Bay of Bengal region. Other equipment deployed included Java and Symbion enabled mobile handsets capable of generating loud alarms and multi-language alert messages. The Bangladesh Network Office for Urban Safety (BNUS) of the Department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is co-organising a workshop with LIRNEasia entitled “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-based Last Mile Warning Systems” to discuss the findings of the Last Mile Hazard Warning System (Hazinfo) Pilot Project as well as share the lessons of community-based last mile warning systems in Bangladesh.
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 […]