Sri Lanka Archives — Page 30 of 58


The   objective   of   this   document: Guidelines for Evaluating RTBP v0.4 is   to   outline   the   evaluation   methodology   for   assessing   the upstream   communication:   data   collection,   data   processing:   event   detection,   and   downstream communication: alerting/reporting stages (verticals in Figure 1) on the aspects of social, content, application, and technology of a Real­Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP). The blue arrows across the verticals and the horizontals indicate the interoperability between elements.

Telecom access rankings in South Asia

Posted on October 24, 2009  /  18 Comments

According to the ITU ICTeye, which is now carrying 2008 data, Pakistan’s surge to overtake Sri Lanka has petered out, leaving the Maldives (143 active SIMs/100 people) as the undisputed leader in mobile connectivity (apparently all adult Maldivians carry two active SIMs; there are only two operators in the Maldives), and Sri Lanka second with 52 SIMs per 100 people. On the fixed side, assisted by CDMA phones that are counted as fixed, Sri Lanka is the leader (17 connection per 100 people), followed by Maldives (15 per 100). Like in cricket, the middle of the rankings are the most interesting. Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. This shows that India cannot afford to let up the pace of 10 million connections a month for some time.
The following quote in a recent article by a Sri Lankan disaster management expert in the government newspaper caught my attention: There was a time gap of nearly three hours between the time Indonesia was affected and the time that Sri Lanka was affected and also the coastline was hit by the wave at different times. Even within Sri Lanka, the Eastern shores were hit first, which gradually spread to North, South and finally the West. The country simply did not have an early warning and dissemination system. This was the first I had heard anyone in government admit even indirectly that many lives could have been saved if the government had communicated to the media the information it received from the Navy and STF on the East Coast. I thank the writer for that.
A m-HealthSurvey Certification Exercise was carried out as part of the m-Health Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) to measure the usability and adoptability of the m-HealthSurvey mobile application. The exercise was conducted with health workers in Sivagangai District, Tamil Nadu, India and in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. The final results of the exercise will be published in the near future. m-HealthSurvey is a mobile application developed by indian Institute of technology Madras’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) for collecting near real-time patient disease, syndrome, and demographic data for rapid detection of disease outbreaks. It is a J2ME midlet that allows users to select categorical data as well as type information to generate patient clinical records to be submitted via GPRS to a central database.

Sri Lanka warning tower fails

Posted on October 17, 2009  /  0 Comments

It is asked in one of Sri Lanka’s aphorisms whether the sword that is not ready for war is to be used for cutting kos (jack fruit)? That is the same question we have to ask the Ministry of Disaster Management about its warning towers. When oh when, will the Ministry realize that these towers are a colossal waste of money and put its weight behind DEWN and cell broadcasting? But in Sri Lanka’s southern coastal village of Godawaya, a tsunami warning tower failed to emit a siren. Local fishermen who had stayed home to take part waited for a few hours and decided to go to work.
In developing countries such as Sri Lanka, when government has no resources to deliver the essential public good of early warnings, alternate methods must be advocated – that was the idea of the HazInfo research project, where civil society in villages were given training to respond appropriately to alerts received from the Hazard Information Hub located at the Sarvodaya Head Office in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. The technology and organizational structure of the HazInfo last-mile hazard warning system proved to work as designed and drew valuable lessons for a full scale implementation. However, the major dilemma was in finding resources to sustain the system. The Hoteliers’ Association of Sri Lanka agreed to obtain services from Sarvodaya for a fee to train and certify the hotel staff in disaster response. This fee would go towards the OPEX of the HazInfo emergency response planning component and operationalize a 24/7/365 Hazard Information Hub for issuing alerts; but to kick start the endeavor a nominal CAPEX is required.

No more blackouts?

Posted on October 9, 2009  /  1 Comments

This comprehensive report on smart grid developments seems most pertinent as Sri Lanka recovers from another nationwide blackout caused by the inability of the state owned monopolist to manage its grid (and to restore power despite repeated attempts). Of course, smart grids are not simply about reducing blackouts; they can reduce the massive waste caused by T&D losses and also introduce time-sensitive pricing to reduce peak-load demand. LIRNEasia has its eye on the intersection of energy and ICT as future area of work. WHAT was the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century? The motor car, perhaps, or the computer?
The profitability and surveillance potential of the state telecom monopoly has not been missed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, described by many as the pseudogovernment of Iran: The nearly $8 billion acquisition by a company affiliated with the elite force has amplified concerns in Iran over what some call the rise of a pseudogovernment, prompting members of Parliament to begin an investigation into the deal. Full story. In other countries, similar arrangements are emerging. In Sri Lanka, it is alleged that no-name companies with interesting connections have entered into joint ventures with the incumbent teleco on highly favorable terms.
The Sunday Leader (Sri Lanka) had the story excerpted below tucked away in the business pages. It contains several lessons for public policy that will be discussed below. They include the importance of interrogating data to make sure that your conclusions make sense and of course the ever present problem of incentives. Some 1.2 million cellular phones were imported illegally into the country last year, causing a loss in government revenue, the B.

Lessons of 2004 tsunami used in Samoa

Posted on October 3, 2009  /  2 Comments

A report on the response to the tsunami that hit Samoa shows that preparedness and evacuation planning saved lives even though they had barely eight minutes after the warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have enough distance from the unstable Sunda Trench and therefore are likely to have more time to organize evacuations. For Indonesia and Thailand, unfortunately, the time will be less. The Pacific islands were so close to the epicentre of the earthquake that a wall of water hit Samoa within eight minutes after the Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii sent its first bulletin Tuesday. Several Samoans said they heard no sirens or warnings, but fled as soon as they were woken up by the earthquake.

Verizon gives up on voice over copper

Posted on September 18, 2009  /  0 Comments

India’s MTNL and BSNL have been losing fixed subscriptions for years; Sri Lanka joined the club recently. Now we see the heirs to AT&T throwing in the towel. I guess it was like this when the railways replaced the canals. How long will it take for policy makers in emerging Asia to see where the wind is blowing? Roll over in your grave, Alexander Graham Bell.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia Chair and CEO, made the lead presentation on access to ICTs at an OECD/infoDev Workshop on the Internet Economy yesterday in Paris. The workshop, “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” is currently underway. In his presentation, Dr Samarajiva described the new “Budget Telecom Network Model” developed in South Asia that is enabling mobile operators to serve low-income customers who yield very low ARPUs [Average Revenues per User] and discuss its extension to enable broadband use.  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have offered the lowest total costs of mobile ownership since 2005-06 while still yielding adequate, though somewhat volatile, returns to ensure continued investment in network extension and new services.  LIRNEasia research shows that this has been made possible by business process innovations to reduce operating expenses, and the minimizing of transaction costs made possible by widespread prepaid use.
We wrote a few weeks back that fixed-mobile substitution that was decreasing fixed subscriptions in India and Pakistan had arrived in Sri Lanka. Instead of waiting for more fixed phones to be disconnected, Sri Lanka Telecom is taking proactive steps to keep its customers. Shows that competition delivers what court cases and regulation cannot. Sri Lanka Telecom, the island’s dominant fixed line operator, said it was offering lower rates and discounts in new subscriber packages amid intensifying competition among phone companies. In its new post-paid tariff plans called ‘V talk’, call rates to fixed and mobile phones have been reduced up to 35 percent and monthly rental reduced up to 48 percent, the company said in a statement.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) once the political ally to ruling Peoples’ Alliance of Sri Lanka, has come up with an innovative idea to link 300,000 plus Internally Displaced Persons with their relatives. Why not create Face Book accounts? Daily Mirror story does not say so, but perhaps JVP wants it done by the government. Rohan Samarajiva made a less complex and more effective suggestion: Why not give them mobile phones? ‘The technology that allows freedom to talk even without the freedom to walk is the phone.

Parental-control phones

Posted on August 27, 2009  /  0 Comments

In the context of the debates about banning mobiles for school children, the issue of phones that constrain use has become relevant. The NYT has done a full survey of the options available to parents in the US, an excerpt of which is given below. Why doesn’t someone do a similar survey for India, Sri Lanka, etc.? Now for some real cellphones.
It was gratifying to see McKinsey picking up on the work that PIPU did in 2002-04 and praising the TRCSL in the regulatory chapter in GITR 2009. There is a lot more refarming to be done TRC; keep up the good work. The move toward a more technology- and service-neutral spectrum policy was mainly triggered by a desire to treat all providers equitably, the urging of mobile providers to shift to GSM technology, and the need to use CDMA as a low-cost solution for fixed wireless access in rural areas. Although the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) was constrained to some extent by existing allocations and defense considerations, it issued more spectrum space. The regulator also recognized the problem of scattering spectrum and attempted to streamline allocations while it cleared capacity in the 1800–1900 megahertz range.