We presented our paper on the “intricacies of implementing the ITU-T X.1303 recommended warning standard for cross-agency situational-awareness in Myanmar, Philippines, and Maldives at ITU Kaleiderscope (2016). It is an IEEE conference sponsored by the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB). The paper was not technical in the strict sense but discussed ICT policy relevant findings that the conference reviewers perceived important for the standardization process and the standards community. We were awarded “the best paper”.
ICT for a Sustainable World was the conference theme this year. It harmonizes with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) vision. The Sahana Alerting and Messaging Broker (SAMBRO) addresses Goals 1, 10, 11, & 13 of the SDG vision. SAMBRO complements the goals with reducing poverty, inequality and supports the sustainability of cities/communities and climate action.
SAMBRO’s ability to provide timely risk information can empower vulnerable communities to better prepare and respond to natural and technological threats. It provides equal access to risk information in multiple languages down to the last-mile households without marginalizing anyone or any groups. The all-hazard all-media approach allows for cities and communities to thrive from the situational-awareness SAMBRO offers; making them safe and resilient. The World Meteorological Organization has recommended the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to be instrumental to Climate Action. The current version SAMBRO 2.0 is built on the foundation of the CAP v1.2 warning standard.
In our paper, we discussed the challenges of engaging all national stakeholder to cooperate in fostering the situational-awareness platform. Others were around the challenges of getting organizations to adopt the ITU-T X.1303 recommendation, namely the CAP early warning standard. It was surprising to learn of the great difficulties Government Organizations face in acquiring a simple service as Bulk SMS, for texting, from a local Mobile Service Provider. SAMBRO is designed to serves as a messaging broker, interlinking the decision subsystem with response subsystem in an early warning chain of communication systems.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) were hot topics at the conference. These were mostly panel discussions. TSB is studying the feasibility of tracking IoT devices as well as standardize the various functions to improve interoperability; which in turn would bring down costs. Given the complexities of classifying and tracking IoT, it was recommended that IoT be governed similar to the World Wide Web – keep it open and let the market dynamics take its own course. Discussions on AI were not on applications or algorithms but more on the principles of privacy and security. One panel debate was on the importance of bringing in gender angle to the standardization process.
Sahana community has been looking for ways to integrate streams of data coming through drones, for example, as an enhancement to our emergency management tools. Perhaps Strong Angel III (2006) might have been the last Sahana interaction with UAV data. While military grade drones can provide such data and processing the Academia is still in the stages of proving the concept of establishing connectivity for data transmission. The results discussed were from field tests under perfect conditions. Severe weather conditions pose difficulties with stabilizing the UAVs as well as it affects the signal propagation characteristics.
Another relevant paper was on boosting the mobile cellular networks to serve small boat fishermen beyond the usual 8 KM range. They discussed preliminary trials of extending it to 32 KM. Adopting mesh networks, is within their R&D scope, to minimize the shadow areas. Alerting fishermen in deep waters was a challenge that our counterparts from the Philippines and Maldives presented to us in the SAMBRO project.
The SAMBRO implementation, testing, and commissioning in Myanmar, Philippines and Maldives was an initiative of the “CAP on a Map” project. The project was predominantly financed through the UN-ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster, and Climate Change.