Radio messages to warn of natural disasters
Three years after the tsunami, a natural disaster satellite alert
system is now ready to help warn last-mile rural villages on natural
disaster emergencies. The Addressable Radio for Emergency Alert (AREA)
is a digital satellite device that uses simple radio technology,
delivering messages to save lives.
LIRNEasia (Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economics) is
a research-based organization that has collaborated with World-Space
USA. They have field-tested the AREA device in Brahamawatte - Balapitiya
(Galle District) and villages, like Panama in Ampara. "We have concluded
eight different configurations that we can communicate to the rural
villages and communities" said, Executive Director, LIRNEasia Professor
The device is a palm-top radio which can be used to listen to news
and music under normal circumstances.
However in the state of an emergency, the normal channel is
automatically diverted to another channel which gives updates about an
emergency. For different rural villages and communities, different
messages can be broadcast on different channels.
From 2006, Sarvodaya has been working with LIRNEasia to help train
communities to be more informed about disasters and to think about
proper evacuation methods. "For example, flash floods cannot be
pre-determined but if the Kelaniya river overflows, villages downstream
can be warned that in x number of hours, y inches of the water level
will rise", said Professor Samarajiva.
Sarvodaya stations are located at their regional centres in 32
villages, broadcasting emergency messages managed by their team of
experts. Even though LIRNEasia has given many AREA devices to rural
villages, there are still more communities who are in need of them. "The
government's assistance is needed to fund the AREA radios for all rural
communities with an authoritative person in charge to transfer the
emergency message". said Professor Samarajiva.