Disaster Management Current Affairs

Home Ministry conducts Multi State Mega Mock Tsunami Exercise 2017

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted Multi State Mega Mock Tsunami Exercise 2017 along the entire East Coast in 31 coastal districts across four States.

It was conducted through National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). The exercise was one of various activities conducted as part of observation of 2nd World Tsunami Awareness Day (observed on November 5).

Key Facts

The exercise was simultaneously conducted in 31 coastal districts across four States – West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (UT) along entire East Coast. It aimed to assess and help improve preparedness, response mechanism and coordination among concerned agencies.

It was for first time entire eastern coast will participate simultaneously in mock exercise. During it, disaster scenario simulating tsunami waves originating due to high-intensity earthquake near Andaman and Nicobar Islands causing massive tsunami along east coast of India was created.

Officials from all important departments such as Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police, health, education, firefighting, Civil Defense, electricity, transport, public relations, etc. participated in the exercise. The exercise helped participants to get familiarise with their responsibilities, actions required and also helped them to evaluate their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for tsunami warnings.

Participants from 11 Pacific Island countries also observed exercise to take away key lessons and best practices for responding to disaster situation due to Tsunami.

Background

Tsunami is a highly devastating natural hazard, and requires rapid response. India’s eastern coast is susceptible to both floods and tsunamis. The eastern coast of India had faced the devastating tsunami in December 2004 that claimed around 230000 lives. The devastating tsunami in Indian Ocean was formed due to high-intensity earthquake with its epicenter off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.  It had affected lives and the natural environment in six countries in the region including India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Thailand.

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Facebook launches Disaster Maps in India for better response to disasters

The social networking giant Facebook Inc. has rolled out Disaster Maps for India in a bid to help communities recover and rebuild faster in aftermath of natural disasters.

It was launched at Facebook’s first Disaster Response Summit in India along with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to improve disaster response and disaster management in India.

Government has claimed that India will be first country to partner with Facebook on disaster response.

Facebook will initially join hands with NDMA and SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) in India to share data about its users with them in times of disasters. Globally Facebook has partnered with organizations like Red Cross for such initiative.

Need

According to UN Development Programme (UNDP) data, India is third-worst affected country by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, cyclones, drought and landslides. Moreover, response time during and after these crises is often slow and it takes significant time and resources to understand where help is needed most. Facebook has 2 billion-plus users globally and its users in India have crossed 240 million mark, making it largest audience country for social media company.

Disaster Maps

Disaster Maps, powered by Facebook’s technology and intensive research will help to address this critical gap in information (data) that government organizations face when responding to crisis or disasters. It was introduced globally in June 2017. It aims to help communities across country recover and rebuild from natural disasters faster by sharing critical pieces of data sets with humanitarian agencies in timely manner.

It provides multiple types of maps during disaster response efforts, which include aggregated location information chosen by people to share with Facebook. This helps NGOs and relief agencies get precise location of people affected by disaster so they can determine where resources like food, water and medical supplies are needed. So far, Facebook researchers have built three kinds of maps. They are

Location density maps: They show location of people before, during and after disaster. This information can be compared to historical records, like population estimates based on satellite images. Comparing these data sets can help response organizations understand areas impacted by a natural disaster.

Movement maps: These illustrate patterns of movement between different neighbourhoods or cities overperiod of several hours. By understanding these patterns, disaster response organizations can better predict where resources will be needed, gain insight into patterns of evacuation or predict where traffic will be most congested.

Safety Check: These maps are based on locations where Facebook community uses Safety Check to notify their friends and family that they are safe during disaster. Using this de-identified data in aggregate, it will show where more or fewer people check in safe, which may help to understand where people are most vulnerable and where help is needed.

ASK-DIV (Disaster Information Volunteers) scheme

Facebook is also supporting pilot of ASK-DIV (Disaster Information Volunteers) scheme with SEEDS. Under it, SEEDS will establish a network of trained volunteers to provide real-time, first-hand information on disasters in their local communities. It will provide supplementary information to inform relief efforts through Facebook Workplace platform. The programme will be piloted in two disaster-prone States — Assam and Uttarakhand.

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