Finland Presents Its Tsunami Early Warning System to Thai

A consortium of Finnish research institutes and companies presented its study and recommendations on a tsunami and disaster Early Warning System to members of the Thai government, authorities and research institutes in a seminar held in Phuket in early December.             
         The essential recommendations include the modernization of the earthquake observation and water level networks, installation of buoys on open seas, as well as the creation of a digital communication network for authorities.                                     
         According to the study, the planned update of the earthquake observation network in Thailand will cater for both real-time earthquake observations and Tsunami warning activities.                                                                            
         After an earthquake has occurred, open sea buoys capable of tsunami detection are required to identify risks and to prevent false alarms. The study analyses the measurement methods already in use, as well as some new methods based on the most recent Finnish know-how, and the ability of these methods to detect approaching tsunamis and produce information for various needs – including day-to-day weather reports for sea-traffic and the fishing industry, e.g. on salinity and temperature. 
         The study suggests that the Thai coastal fixed marine station network, which measures water level and weather parameters, should be modernized so that it provides data in digital format and in real-time.
         The network should also be expanded to include the outer islands and oil rigs, to enable 10-60 minute advance warning on tsunamis. 
         Warning towers equipped with alarm sirens are currently being installed on the coastal areas of Thailand, and they will be used for warnings in case of emergencies. According to the Thai authorities, the warning tower network will cover all beaches in Phuket by Boxing Day, the day of the 2004 tsunami memorial service. 
         The study also recommends the introduction of a shared digital terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) network for authorities. This network would link the police, rescue department and medical authorities, and would remain operational also when the phone networks are congested. This would help in ensuring the seamless cooperation of authorities in crisis situations. 
         As to organizational structures, the consortium recommended a structure similar to the natural disaster warning centre planned for Finland, where the scientific analysis of research institutes and decision-making in rescue operations are tightly linked.  
         In addition to Vaisala, the FinnEWS Consortium consists of the following companies and organizations: Jaakko Pöyry Group/Soil and Water Ltd, Finnish Institute of Marine Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki University of Technology, Mobimar Oy, Institute of Seismology/ University of Helsinki, Fastrax Oy, EADS Secure Networks Oy, EM-Tekniikka Oy, VTT Information Technology.
         The Feasibility Study has been written in cooperation with Thai authorities. Partners include the Thai Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Meteorological Institute of Thailand,the National Disaster Warning Center set up in June, and many others. 
         The Feasibility Study is partly financed by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Finnish Ambassador to Thailand Lars Backström has supported the study, and participated in the seminar held in Phuket last week as a representative of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

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