Integration of Components into a Cohesive System
System ActivationOur warning system will be activated from the Tsunami Headquarters in each country, after a tsunami is detected propagating towards the coast. The mechanism of detection is a network of sensors deployed on buoys around the world that send information on changes in water pressure to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu, Hawaii (for more information, please see Team 5's webpage). The PTWC analyzes the data and, when a tsunami is detected, notifies the Tsunami Headquarters in each country that will be effected (That is assuming the country has a Tsunami Headquarters. If not, the PTWC will notify the country's government).
The Peruvian and Micronesian alert networks will be activated in this way, unless a tsunami or an earthquake is detected very near Peru or Micronesia. If one of the buoys nearest Peru and Micronesia picks up a tsunami, that data will be immediately sent to the Tsunami Headquarters in the nearby country. This way, if a tsunami is detected very near the coast, a warning can be sent out as quickly as possible, without the delay of sending the information to Hawaii and back to the Tsunami Headquarters. After the data is analyzed by the PWTC, more specific information about the propagating tsunami will be available and the alert will be revised if necessary. If an earthquake is detected very near either country, a tsunami triggered by that earthquake might reach the coast within minutes and if a message is not sent out until the existence of a tsunami is confirmed by the sensors, any available time will very likely be wasted. Therefore, to prevent damage and loss of life, a tsunami warning will be sent out upon the detection of a powerful nearby earthquake.
Peru currently has a Tsunami Headquarters located in Callao, in the district of Lima1. Micronesia does not now belong to the Tsunami Warning Network, the group of countries that support and benefit from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Our plan is contingent on the assumption that Micronesia will join the Tsunami Warning Network and set up its own Tsunami Headquarters, most likely on one of the larger islands such as Pohnpei.
Distribution of the Warning MessageIn the first step after the system is activated, the national Tsunami Headquarters will determine which danger zones are going to be effected by the tsunami and where they will be effected. Then a warning level will be assigned to the event and the warning process will begin. The following flow chart illustrates how the alert message will reach the people.
The Route of the Alert Message2
Manual Component of the Warning SystemWith an ideal tsunami warning system, everyone in the affected region is notified of the approaching tsunami automatically by devices that receive their message directly from tsunami headquarters. We have strived for this situation but lack of resources and technical failures make this ideal impossible to fulfill. In addition, even with a system where everyone is warned automatically, the population still benefits from getting the information from a variety of sources and in a variety of media. We therefore need a manual component to the warning system.
Every community in Peru and Micronesia no matter its size must have a local official or organization responsible for manually warning the community of approaching tsunamis. This official or organization will have a tone-alert radio from which they will receive the warning message and updated information on the disaster. The information below provides some guidelines to help the responsible officials know what to do when they receive the warning message.
Chart 1 is a matrix of subcommunities and various automatic and manual warning mechanisms. An X denotes, for an automatic mechanism that that subcommunity will likely receive the warning broadcast by that warning mechanism assuming that the system works properly. For manual warning systems, an X indicates the mechanism would be useful for alerting that subcommittee, and that it is not available in an automatic form. A / for an automatic mechanism means that not all of the people in the subcommunity will be warned by that mechanism or that the subcommunity may or may not be reached by that mechanism even it is working properly. For a manual mechanism, a / means that the mechanism might be useful, depending on the individual community. This matrix serves as a guideline of what a community can expect from its various automatic warning systems and which manual warning systems will be most effective. However, every community is different so officials must fill in a matrix based on the actual situation of their community. For example, if a community has a siren that can be automatically activated, the officials do not need to manually activate that siren.
Chart 2 shows the filled out matrix of a hypothetical community. This community has working automatic sirens but the sirens do not reach the hospital, hotel, farms or docks. It has a working automatic dialer system that reaches the emergency personel, the hospital, the school and the hotel. In this community, some people in the residential areas have radios, and many people in the hotel receive radio, television and internet news.
Peru1Peru has existing emergency warning protocols that are published on the internet. The existing system deals with warning on the national level but not on the local level. Peru's warning system consisted solely of notifying coastal and navigational agencies, emergency response agencies, the Peruvian geophysical institute and the Peruvian government, which would then notify the citizens. The plan does not contain information on how the citizens would receive the warning message. We have incorporated Peru's warning system into our system.
MicronesiaThere is scarse information on Micronesia's existing warning systems at the local level or the national level, so we are assuming that our system will be the only system in place. Micronesia's social and political infrastructure is locally based to a larger extent than elsewhere. This is conducive to having a functional local alert system.
1 - Direccion de Hidrografia y Navigacion, 2005
2 - This flow chart is modeled after a chart found on the homepage of the National Weather Service Forecast Office: San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey
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