Thailand installs disaster-warning system from Hawaii University

To better protect its people from natural disasters, Thailand’s government has operationalized a new early warning system developed in conjunction with the Pacific Disaster Center, a research center managed by the University of Hawaii.

The new system, dubbed ThaiAWARE, will provide “advanced decision support capabilities” to disaster management officials and personnel in the Kingdom, according to its designers. ThaiAWARE is a customized version of the Pacific Disaster Center’s DisasterAWARE, and this is the first installation in Asia.

Linked to the center in Hawaii, ThaiAWARE is providing “real-time, dynamic information from both international and national sources and offers the world’s most advanced multi-hazard exposure modeling capabilities in a single platform,” said Chris Chiesa, Deputy Executive Director of the Pacific Disaster Center.

“The system includes the new early warning and multi-hazard monitoring technologies offered in DisasterAWARE, as well as critical predictive hazard impact analysis tools and hundreds of new national data layers to support effective preparedness and response,” Chiesa said.

Asia and the Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), between 2014 and 2017, Asia and the Pacific suffered 55 earthquakes, 217 storms and cyclones, and 236 cases of severe flooding, impacting 650 million people and causing the deaths of 33,000 people.

Flooding and droughts are the most frequent natural disasters that afflict Thailand. These have been worsening in recent years because of climate change. Thailand was also one of the countries affected by the 2005 tsunami that erupted off the coast of Indonesia.

“Early warning is a really important function and one that has been proven to save lives and reduce loss from disasters,” said Harlan Hale, Regional Advisor, Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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