Japan Issues Earthquake Warning Six Minutes Before Tremblor

On December 14, 2012, in News, by with SRA International

Last week’s earthquake off the coast of Japan brought to mind the devastating earthquake and tsunami that slammed into the island nation in 2011. While this earthquake caused relatively little serious damage, and thus becomes just one of many earthquakes to hit Japan over the year, there is one point that is particularly noteworthy: residents were warned a full six minutes before the earth shook. Continue reading »

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2 August 2011 –

Thirty-one countries are set to take part next week in a United Nations-backed test of the tsunami early warning system in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas, which have experienced strong seismic activity over the years, although less frequently than in the Pacific Ocean.The warning system was first established in 2005 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) established under the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).The purpose of the exercise to be conducted on 10 August is “to ensure effective communication between regional and national centres and tsunami warning focal points,” according to a news release issued by UNESCO.

The exercise will include sending test messages via electronic mail, fax and the Global Telecommunication System from the Istanbul Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI, Turkey) to all the national centres and tsunami warning focal points in the region.

Continue reading »

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Social Media in Japan

On March 29, 2011, in Featured Posts, General, Social Media, by with SRA International

The Global Post’s recent article about the use of social media in devastated Japan, Japan tsunami disaster: As Japan scrambles, Twitter reigns, echoes the same sentiment I’ve had lately regarding social media:

It seems no natural disaster or revolt can pass without an examination of Twitter, the free internet social media service that lets users type out news, rants, epiphanies or cries for help in 140 characters or less.

Of course, some of this information isn’t exactly an examination or critique. If you Google “Twitter Japan Tsunami” you’ll have to wade through link after link about Hollywood celebrities tweeting about the recent events in Japan (yawn). However, if you know where to look, you can find some very interesting information about the use of social media in Japan right now. AWARE’s members have certainly had a lot to say about the value and use of social media in disasters lately. Apparently, so has the rest of the world.

Slate published an article titled, The Best-Laid Plans…. The story isn’t so much a critique of the use of social media since the disaster but more a snapshot of how the Kesennuma City Crisis Management Department worked to amass Twitter followers and keep them engaged in the topic of emergency preparedness well before the recent earthquake and tsunami events. Kesennuma City is in complete ruin, but the tweeting continues.

Ushahidi has, of course, deployed its services in Japan — it also has begun blogging about its work. A recent post shows a heat map of its deployment. It appears that well over half of Japan has been impacted by the earthquake and tsunami events.

(While you’re on Ushahidi’s blog, I encourage you to check out its series titled, “Recent Deployments and Lessons Learned Part 1 and Part 2.”  More to come on this two-part series in another post!)

Even the media is using social media to cover the disaster…and of course they are writing about it, as evidenced by the BBC’s aptly titled article, Using Twitter to cover the Earthquake in Japan and USAToday’s Japan: Twitter earthquake and tsunami updates from the ground. In fact, Scientific American used the tweets and Facebook status updates of the local population to report on Japan’s “online panic” caused by the nuclear crisis.  The media may be on to something here. As more reporters flee Japan due to fears of nuclear contamination, we may see them rely more heavily on first hand social media accounts in place of on-the-ground journalists to report the news.

I’m sure the coverage and critique of Japan’s use of social media during a disaster has only just begun, especially now that Japan’s Office of the Prime Minister launched its own Facebook page this week…in English.

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Some scientists defend tsunami warnings

On March 1, 2010, in News, by with Touchstone Consulting Group

By GILLIAN FLACCUS (AP) – 14 hours ago

HONOLULU — The warning was ominous, its predictions dire: Oceanographers issued a bulletin telling Hawaii and other Pacific islands that a killer wave was heading their way with terrifying force and that “urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.”

But the devastating tidal surge predicted after Chile’s magnitude 8.8-earthquake for areas far from the epicenter never materialized. And by Sunday, authorities had lifted the warning after waves half the predicted size tickled the shores of Hawaii and tourists once again jammed beaches and restaurants.

Scientists acknowledged they overstated the threat but many defended their actions, saying they took the proper steps and learned the lessons of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed thousands of people who didn’t get enough warning.

“It’s a key point to remember that we cannot under-warn. Failure to warn is not an option for us,” said Dai Lin Wang, an oceanographer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. “We cannot have a situation that we thought was no problem and then it’s devastating. That just cannot happen.”

Hundreds of thousands of people fled shorelines for higher ground Saturday in a panic that circled the Pacific Rim after scientists warned 53 nations and territories that a tsunami had been generated by the massive Chilean quake.

It was the largest-scale evacuation in Hawaii in years, if not decades. Emergency sirens blared throughout the day, the Navy moved ships out of Pearl Harbor, and residents hoarded gasoline, food and water in anticipation of a major disaster. Some supermarkets even placed limits on items like Spam because of the panic buying.

At least five people were killed by the tsunami on Robinson Crusoe Island off Chile’s coast and huge waves devastated the port city of Talcahuano, near hard-hit Concepcion on Chile’s mainland.

But the threat of monster waves that left Hawaii’s sun-drenched beaches empty for hours never appeared — a stark contrast to the tidal surge that killed 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean in 2004 and flattened entire communities.

 More at:  http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jBrcBuf8vcRnbwe8MlMqRV1EnkOwD9E5LFTG1

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Maldives to get early warning alerts via SMS

On February 28, 2010, in News, by with SRA International

This may be a little dated, but it looks like Maldives is implementing cell broadcast technology, in addition the article also mentions about an alert and warning system in Sri Lanka that is in place for a couple of years. The study mentioned in the article – ‘Mobile Cell Broadcasting for Commercial Use and Public Warning in the Maldives’ – is available online here.

Maldives to get early warning alerts via SMS

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02 September 2009

Facing increased threats triggered by climate change, Maldives will soon receive text based early warning alerts for disasters. Cell broadcasting, a technology will enable delivery of information to multiple users simultaneously in a specified area.

Texting short messages through mobile phones could help in early warning of natural disasters in the Maldives, says a new report.

The technology, called cell broadcasting, helps to deliver messages simultaneously to multiple users in a specified area.

In the case of the Maldives, if an early warning is introduced, it must be able to reach all of the outlying islands including tourists on resorts.

With mobile phones quite ubiquitous, it may be an ideal time to introduce an emerging technology — cell broadcasting — for public early warning,” says the report, ‘Mobile Cell Broadcasting for Commercial Use and Public Warning in the Maldives’, which was published last month (15 July).

More at: http://southasia.oneworld.net/ictsfordevelopment/maldives-to-get-early-warning-alerts-via-sms

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