SAMBRO Warning Exercise in the Maldives

SAMBRO Centralizes Emergency Information Management but Decentralizes the Emergency Management Responsibilities

Thulesdhoo Island
Thulesdhoo Island

To prove the concept, we carried out early warning controlled-exercises in the Island of Tulesdoo, in the Maldives. It’s located 27KM DIRECTION of the capitol city Male. Similar to other Islands, the Island Council members are also responsible for emergency and crisis response. The controlled-exercise discussed the challenges of alerting response resources to aid in emergency operations.

The scenario

zExercisesThe Island owns and operates a a Ferry that runs between Thuleshdoo and Male. In the unlikely event of the boat capsizing, with approximately 40 passengers on board, off the shores of Thulesdoo, how would the Thuleshdoo community make use of the Sahana Alerting and Messaging Broker (SAMBRO) to activate Search and Rescue operations?

It may take a while for Coast Guard to respond to the distress signal communicated over VHF. Most of the Island inhabitants could be out fishing and possibly beyond the coverage of mobile cellular networks (they don’t own the expensive VHF radios). One option is to alert nearby resources to come to their aid. One such resource is the Club Med Tourist Resort that is a few Kilometers off their shores.

SAMBRO to the Rescue

The Thulesdoo Island Council members, participating in the tabletop exercise, made used of the SAMBRO Mobile APP. They issued a local alert with details of the boat accident. SAMBRO server receives the alert and instantly disseminates to all Organizations and Members in that area; which took less than 6 minutes between issuing the alert and the participants receiving the alert over SMS, Email, and the Mobile APP. It took less than 1 minute to create and issue the alert and the rest of the time was for telecommunication. Nevertheless, it is still many folds efficient than any current system they practice.

In a real situation everyone subscribing to alerts, for that area, including the Coast Guard, Tour Boat Operators, Club Med Resort, and other, nearby Island Councils, would receive the alert in a single instance. With current setup, the Council would need to inform the Ministry of Tourism EOC, and they intern would need to inform the tour boats, so on and so forth; thus, loosing valuable life saving time.

Another controlled-exercise was Thulesdoo managing a large fire threatening the Island households. They used the SAMBRO Mobile APP to manage the alerting cycle. First an alert was issued to activate local first-responders to assess and report the situation. Once the realized that the fire was spreading they issued an update to evacuate the nearby residents. Once the situation was contained, an All-Clear alert was issued to inform the first-responders that it was safe for the evacuees to return to their homes.

Diluting the Responsibilities

Maldives National Disaster Management Center operates with a handful of staff. They are gradually building their capacity and capabilities. As a result the the small team is pulled in all directions and tasked with all kinds of disaster management activities. Finding time to enhance their warning and response systems is a challenge. In-spite of these challenges they are making great strides in implementing the SAMBRO system because they see how it would complement their and reduce their workloads.

As we already proved through the controlled-exercise, SAMBRO centralizes the information management but decentralizes the responsibilities by offering tools such as the Mobile APP for Islands to issue alert relevant to their local environment. NDMC is also integrating alerts from all other Organizations and helping relay them to improve their institutional responsiveness to coastal hazards.


The controlled-exercises in the Maldives was carried out as part of the “CAP on a Map” project. It aims to improve their resilience to coastal hazards. The project was made possible through the UNESCAP Multi-donor Trust Fund (URL).

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