T+T provides Dominica With EWS Support

With golden sands, azure-hued waters and temperature averages sitting nicely in the mid-20s, the island nation of Dominica in the Caribbean is a picturesque paradise you’d see on a postcard or a screensaver.

It’s Dominica’s tropical location that gives it its paradise-like qualities. That same location however, leaves Dominica prone to hurricanes, high-wind, high-rainfall, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

On September 18 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Dominica, leaving $1.37 billion in losses across the island, equal to 226 times its 2016 GDP. 65 lives were claimed in its wake – the deadliest hurricane in Dominica in over 150 years.

While hurricanes can’t be prevented, a sufficient early warning system can provide ample forewarning to help mitigate damage to infrastructure and reduce loss of life.

“It’s been three years since Hurricane Maria hit Dominica”, says Tonkin + Taylor’s Bapon Fakhruddin.  “People are still awaiting assistance to repair their homes and there’s not much in the way of improvement”.

Tonkin + Taylor’s Bapon Fakhruddin is one of the world’s pre-eminent leaders in disaster risk reduction and early warning systems (EWS) and has just been tasked by the United Nations Development Programme for Dominica to help produce Dominica’s new multi-hazard impact based early warning system, in conjunction with the Dominica Meteorological Service and Office of Disaster Management.

“Post-Hurricane Maria, several EWS initiatives were put in place in Dominica but they lack consistency, standardisation or harmonisation”, says Bapon. “I’m designing a new system based on user need and local context to help reduce life and property damage”.

Early warning systems are a major element in disaster risk reduction through the emphasis on disaster preparedness. Despite considerable advances in predictive technologies, hydro-meteorological and geo-hazards continue to claim many thousands of lives while wreaking irreparable damage upon homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. This continuously results in leaving impoverished economies in their destructive wake.

Implementation of the early warning system is close and Bapon sees further collaboration as integral to the process:

“Developing the multi-hazard early warning system is an iterative and evolving process that needs to be undertaken in close communication with stakeholders. We have sent through our design. Now it’s over to the Government to ensure the system is integrated and harmonized to save lives and reduce damages from future disaster.

T+T Provides Indonesia With Rapid Mapping Support

When our principal early warning system expert, Bapon Fakhruddin was back in Indonesia last week, he was thanked personally by Deputy Minister, B. Wishnu Widjaja of the BNPB (Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure) for the support T+T provided after the Palu earthquake and tsunami.

From NZ, our team of experts was able to use spatial software to analyse satellite imagery to do rapid damage mapping and identify the extent of damage caused by the earthquake, tsunami, liquefaction and landslides immediately after the event to help the Indonesians respond to, and recover from the disaster.

After meeting with the key people from the BNPB and BMKG (Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency) Bapon said, “It’s very rewarding to support Indonesia again, after having helped them develop early warning systems after the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.  Indonesia is at the frontline of earthquake, tsunami and eruption and have a large population who are more vulnerable to these natural hazards – perhaps more than any other country in the world – so it’s great to be able to support them, despite them having a robust ability to be able to respond to disaster on their own.”

Benefits of Economic Assessment of Cyclone Early Warning Systems-A Case Study on Cyclone Evan in Samoa

Samoa is extremely exposed to natural hazards, particularly tropical cyclones and earthquake-generated tsunami. Some studies have put forth the position that adequate investment in early warning systems can contribute to the social and economic well-being of countries. However, in spite of these research findings there is still a lack of understanding on how to measure effectiveness that leads to limited investment. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a tool used in this study to summarize the value for money in terms of investment to enhance an early warning system. This paper aims to summarize the benefits of adopting early warning systems and its effectiveness against the investment required and its value proposition. Data from the ‘Samoa Post-Disaster Needs Assessment of the Cyclone Evan event in 2012’ have been used to assess damage information, and stakeholders consultations and interviews were carried out for cost-benefit analysis. We have conducted quantified CBA of early warning services for cyclone hazards and the results have shown that for every USD 1 invested, there is a return of USD 6 as benefit. This paper suggests that economic assessment of early warning services could help in quantifying pre-impact assessment to demonstrate to policy makers the economic benefit of disaster risk reduction (DRR).

To learn more visit:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590061719300341

Extent and Evaluation of Vulnerability for Disaster Risk Reduction of Urban Nuku’alofa, Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga, its people, economy and day-to-day operability are extremely vulnerable to the perils of natural hazards and climate change. Indeed, Tonga is rated the second most at-risk nation in the Pacific. The aim of this study was to assess the urban resilience of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa to the effects of climate changes and natural disasters. This paper identifies the natural hazard risk in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa by providing an integrated disaster and climate risk reduction assessment. It outlines major gaps in risk awareness and community-based disaster risk management practices through extensive literature research, the analysis of secondary information and consultations with stakeholders. This research adopts an indicator-based approach to assess each element of the country’s disaster management system. Furthermore, it assesses policy and regulatory frameworks that define Nuku’alofa’s approach to disaster management and climate change. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were used in this study, which co-benefits urban development in Tongan communities to enhance urban resilience. The main objective of this model is to rank a given set of infrastructure sector indicators based on their disaster and development-related vulnerability. Disaster risk depends on both physical vulnerability and a wide range of social, economic, and environmental aspects. For a better risk understanding, a holistic perspective was applied to assess the natural hazard risk for Nuku’alofa. The comprehensive approach of this paper outlines the current disaster risk resilience profile of Nuku’alofa, including current hazard assessments and urban disaster resilience assessments, while recommending mitigation measures to help reduce the risk.

To learn more visit:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590061719300171

Understanding Risk Finance Pacific Forum – Vanuatu

The Understanding Risk Finance Pacific Forum was recently held in Vanuatu, with policymakers, financial risk managers and development partners from the region and around the globe converging upon Port Vila to strengthen regional collaboration in the Pacific.

Co-organised by the Government of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and the World Bank’s Disaster Risk and Insurance Program (DRFIP), the URF Pacific Forum was conducted over four days with discussion and in-depth sessions focusing on technical, policy and interactive training, showcasing innovative approaches to government action, community engagement and private sector solutions.

Two key themes and three key objectives were identified in order to create lasting change in the Disaster Risk Reduction space:

Themes:

  1. Understanding Risk – improving the way in which risk information is gathered, analysed and communicated.
  2. Building Financial Resilience – planning ahead to better manage the financial and humanitarian impact of disasters.

Objectives:

  1. Strengthen collaboration – on climate and disaster risk finance among Pacific Island Countries (PIC) and across Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
  2. Provide opportunities for knowledge exchange among countries and between regional organisations.
  3. Capture best practices and identify collaboration on disaster risk finance and insurance among PICs and global partners.

Tonkin + Taylor’s Technical Director of DRR and Climate Resilience, Dr Bapon Fakhruddin, was present at the Forum, acting as Speaker on Pacific Early Warning Systems (EWS) in a session on Multi-Hazard Impact Based Early Warning Systems.

“Science has made advancements but we have not yet been able to incorporate advanced science in operational decision making”, Dr Fakhruddin says. “Many of the operational forecasting information is still not able to reach the area of the community at risk”.

Early warning systems are a major element in disaster risk reduction through the emphasis on disaster preparedness. Despite considerable advances in predictive technologies, hydro-meteorological and geo-hazards continue to claim many thousands of lives while wreaking irreparable damage upon homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. This continuously results in leaving impoverished economies in their destructive wake.

In recent years, it has become clear that sustained and efficient investment in multi-hazard early warning systems is vital. This is particularly relevant in Least Developing Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States. Along with this, the need to strengthen access and availability to early warnings is also reiterated in the Sendai Framework, the Paris Climate Change Agreements and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

An early warning is the provision of timely and effective information. This can be delivered through identified institutions, which then inform individuals exposed to hazard to take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response. The integration of each element with equal strength is critical for the success of the EWS. One weak element can cause failure of the overall system.

Reflecting on the URf, Dr Fakhruddin says, “When communicating warnings, the information suppliers need to use language that is not overly technical or scientific. The suppliers need to keep the audience of the warnings in mind, including their level of understanding and knowledge, to ensure maximum clarity is achieved”.

Climate Resilience Transport System – Dream Cambodia Project a First for Asia

The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) of Cambodia is executing the Asia Development Bank (ADB) financed “Rural Roads Improvement Project”, with Nordic Development Fund (NDF) providing parallel grant financing for Climate Change Adaptation Output (CCAO).

The project is a first for Asia and ADB is keen to see the Kingdom of Cambodia pilot replicated in other countries.

commune

Cambodia faces an increasing incidence of disasters with severe damage, high costs and threats to lives and livelihoods, especially due to flooding. NDF, through the CCAO, is assisting MRD in establishing a pilot emergency warning system and emergency response facilities in Kampong Thom province.

This was a unique project for which the CCAO team was, for the first time in any Asian country, able to directly connect at-risk people to infrastructure sectors and the development of early warning and emergency response systems.

“Coping with climate change is highly important to rural development,” said H.E. Chang Darong, Director General for Technical Affairs at the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).

“We continue to seek advanced solutions to improve the Kingdom of Cambodia’s rural resilience. The emergency response component of the project was so successful, that ADB is keen to see it replicated in other districts in Cambodia.”

Tonkin + Taylor disaster risk resilience expert, Dr Bapon (Shm) Fakhruddin said: “The transport sector deals with roads and transportation, but underneath it all, it is for the people. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is now able to understand the link between community roading needs and disaster risk, which enables them to set up rural infrastructure and support for the community,” said

“It was a dream project – to holistically enhance people’s safety and wellbeing and not just focus on asset management. It had never happened in any sector in Asia before.”

CCAO also incorporated significant Emergency Management Systems objectives, as well as implementation strategies.

boat

Of Cambodia’s 16.1 million people (World Bank, 2017), 82% live in rural areas. The country is rich in minerals, although most of its rural population are farmers. Three years ago, Cambodia exceeded the Millennium Development Goal and became one of the best performers in poverty reduction worldwide, with poverty reducing by 53% (World Bank, 20 February 2014). Although increased rice prices and production made a big difference, improved roading was a key player in poverty reduction, providing easy access for farmers taking their produce to market.

But Cambodia is still teetering on the brink and an economic set-back could happen at any time. It faces an increasing incidence of devastating climate change-related floods – which threaten lives and livelihoods and leave massive repair bills in their wake – and long periods of drought. The 2016 drought was the worst in decades, plunging millions of people into poverty and despair, killing wildlife and leaving lake and river fish high and dry. The country also still carries the social and economic scars left by 30 years of war.

The “Outcomes 1” planning phase took place from 2012 – 2015. An implementation plan was developed for a pilot climate change office at MRD, which is still working on the ADB loan -financed rural roads improvement project. Communities were selected for early warning and emergency response assessments, socio-economic surveys, capacity development plans, coordination mechanisms and procurement plans for the establishing of coordination and operational offices at province and district level, along with community shelters.

“Outcomes 2” (2015 to 2017) focused on implementation and establishing of early warning systems, emergency response facilities and capacity development. Cheu Teal, in Kampong Thom’s Sandan district, was chosen as a pilot area. Most of its access roads flood during the rainy season, cutting off communities and endangering lives.

The team took a pragmatic, “bottom-up” approach, starting with discussions and needs assessments at community level. Once these were completed, the practical work to improve safety and resilience got underway.

Three flood shelters were established in Kai Raing, Ang Doung Pring, and Cheu Teal. An Emergency Operations Centre was developed at Cheu Teal and an Emergency Information Centre established for Kampong Thom Province. Simulation exercises taught locals how to use roading networks to quickly access emergency shelters. Alternative route information and improved safety route signage was provided and, for the most vulnerable community, an evacuation boat was supplied.

“These facilities will build confidence within the communities to respond better to natural disasters,” said Dr Fakhruddin. “The shelters are multipurpose, not only providing safety during disastrous floods, but also enabling communities to strengthen their social activities and to develop revenue streams.”

The shelters are also happy places, providing venues for wedding parties, weekend farmers’ markets and meetings. Users are charged a small fee that goes towards maintenance.

At national level, coordination was established across a number of agencies such as the Cambodian Red Cross Society and Government agencies to enhance the country’s preparedness and mitigation measures aimed at enhancing resilience to natural hazards.

An Early Warning System (EWS) was also developed and is now being implemented. Nordic Development Fund provided parallel grant financing for CCAO.

The MRD is planning to set up a Climate Change Division to managed= future climate risk and disaster response.

Dream Cambodia Project a First for Asia

Cambodia’s Climate Change Adaptation Output (CCAO) was a “dream project” for Tonkin + Taylor International’s Dr Bapon (Shm) Fakhruddin.

In a first for any Asian country, the five-year Asian Development bank (ADB)-funded project took infrastructure asset management and development to micro levels, focusing on the risk resilience and welfare of Cambodia’s most isolated and at-risk people. The project was so successful, that ADB is keen to see it replicated in other countries.

“This was a unique project where we were able to connect infrastructure sectors, people and early warning and emergency response systems together”, said Dr Fakhruddin, who worked as part of a dedicated project team.

“The transport sector deals with roads and transportation, but underneath it all, it is for the people. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is now able to understand the link between community roading needs and disaster risk, which enables them to set up rural infrastructure and support for the community.

“It was a dream project – to holistically enhance people’s safety and wellbeing, and not just focus on asset management. It had never happened in any sector in Asia before”.

CCAO also incorporated significant Emergency Management Systems objectives, as well as implementation strategies.

Of Cambodia’s 16.1 million people (World Bank, 2017), 82% live in rural areas. The country is rich in minerals, although most of its rural population are farmers. Three years ago, Cambodia exceeded the Millennium Development Goal and became one of the best performers in poverty reduction worldwide, with poverty reducing by 53% (World Bank, 20 February 2014). Although increased rice prices and production made a big difference, improved roading was a key player in poverty reduction, providing easy access for farmers taking their produce to market.

But Cambodia is still teetering on the brink and an economic set-back could happen at any time. It faces an increasing incidence of devastating climate change-related floods – which threaten lives and livelihoods and leave massive repair bills in their wake – and long periods of drought. The 2016 drought was the worst in decades, plunging millions of people into poverty and despair, killing wildlife and leaving lake and river fish high and dry. The country also still carries the social and economic scars left by 30 years of war.

The “Outcomes 1” planning phase took place from 2012 – 2015. An implementation plan was developed for a pilot climate change office at MRD, which is still working on the ADB loan – financed rural roads improvement project. Communities were selected for early warning and emergency response assessments, socio-economic surveys, capacity development plans, coordination mechanisms and procurement plans for the establishing of coordination and operational offices at province and district level, along with community shelters.

“Outcomes 2” (2015 to 2017) focused on implementation and establishing of early warning systems, emergency response facilities and capacity development. Cheu Teal, in Kampong Thom’s Sandan district, was chosen as a pilot area. Most of its access roads flood during the rainy season, cutting off communities and endangering lives.

Dr Fakhruddin and his team took a pragmatic, “bottom-up” approach, starting with discussions and needs assessments at community level. Once these were completed, the practical work to improve safety and resilience got underway.

Three flood shelters were established in Kai Raing, Ang Duong Pring, and Cheu Teal. An Emergency Operations Centre was developed at Cheu Teal and an Emergency Information Centre established for Kampong Thom Province. Simulation exercises taught locals how to use roading networks to quickly access emergency shelters. Alternative route information and improved safety route signage was provided and, for the most vulnerable community, an evacuation boat was supplied.

“These facilities will build confidence within the communities to respond better to natural disasters”, said Dr Fakhruddin. “The shelters are multipurpose, not only providing safety during disastrous floods, but also enabling communities to strengthen their social activities and to develop revenue streams”.

The shelters are also happy places, providing venues for wedding parties, weekend farmers’ markets and meetings. Users are charged a small fee that goes toward maintenance.

At national level, coordination was established across a number of agencies such as the Cambodian Red Cross Society and Government agencies to enhance the country’s preparedness and mitigation measures aimed at enhancing resilience to natural hazards.

An Early Warning System (EWS) was also developed and is now being implemented. Nordic Development Fund provided parallel grant financing for CCAO.

Dr Fakhruddin is delighted with the outcome of the project, which he proudly refers to as his “baby”.

Pacific’s Disabled to the Fore in Early Warning Systems

Better community engagement of at-risk communities, with a particular focus on the disabled, was up for discussion at a recent Pacific meteorological forum.

The fourth Pacific Meteorological Council and second Pacific Meteorological Ministers Meeting (PMMM) was held in Honiara, Solomon Islands in mid-August.

Reaching communities and ensuring that those most in need are provided with effective communications and technologies are top priorities for the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC).

Consequently, Dr Fakhruddin’s presentation on end-to-end, impact based multi-hazard early warning systems, beginning with community ownership and engagement, was exceptionally well received.

Dr Fakhruddin is one of the world’s leading experts in early warning systems (EWS). He has developed tailor-made frameworks for many Pacific and Asian countries vulnerable to natural hazards, including floods, cyclones and tsunami.

Effective early warning systems (EWS) required a complete understanding of the populations and assets exposed to threats, Dr Fakhruddin told the meeting.

“Risk based early warning systems are essential. Practice shows that people and communities at risk need to be involved in the understanding of their exposure and the vulnerabilities of different groups, including the disabled, the elderly, children and pregnant women.“

Dr Fakhruddin said that an effective system also relied on expert risk assessment, interpretation and risk communication.

“Research shows that before deciding to take a disruptive – and often expensive – action such as evacuation, people must understand the forecast, believe it applies to them and, most importantly, feel that they and/or their loved ones are at risk. However, common practice has been to prepare and release forecast messages without adequately understanding how they are received, understood and/or interpreted. Accurate, appropriate information that translates early warnings into early actions at community level is essential.”

“We’ve always been talking about reaching the last mile, and that means getting to the people who haven’t got the message we are relaying. We’re talking about people with disabilities as well. They need to be included in our conversations and awareness efforts too,” said the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP) Climate Change Advisor, Espen Ronneberg,

“We do this to prepare those who are vulnerable to disasters as well and that includes people with disabilities.”

Disabled and elderly people are particularly at risk from natural disasters as, even with strong family and community support systems, it takes longer for them to reach designated safety zones. Likewise, extra forward planning is required for the evacuation of hospital patients and other health care facilities.

Ronneberg believed that the way forward lay in encouraging disabled people to join in on EWS discussions.

“I think the best way to include them would be through the People with Disabilities’ Forum, and it will be great if we can get them to take an interest in meteorology as well,” he said.

The PMC session included discussion on new forms of risk assessment, such as the shift from deterministic to probabilistic risk estimation. Dr Fakhruddin’s decade-long research has been focused on the application of probabilistic early warning ensembles for community level applications using advanced science and technology.

Deterministic approaches are used to assess the impacts of a specific natural hazard scenario, whereas probabilistic methods use modelling to produce more refined estimates of how often a hazard is likely to happen and the potential damage it will deliver. Probabilistic assessments work with uncertainties, partly due to the random nature of natural hazards, and partly because of scientists’ incomplete understanding and measurement of the hazards, exposure and vulnerability under consideration (OECD, 2012).

“As hazard information is always probabilistic, the risk information and risk communication also need to be probabilistic,” Dr Fakhruddin said.

“When any new probabilistic forecast product is introduced, it can be miscommunicated to affected people.

“For people to make good decisions, the capacity to generate an early warning with an acceptable lead-time is essential. For example, advances in tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts using ensemble methods have been widely used for operational TC tracking. By using simple, weighted, or selective methods, TC tracking forecasts tend to have smaller positional errors than single model–based forecasts.”

The impacts of climate variability and change were recognised at the meeting as major challenges to island nations. Of particular concern to the Pacific region were sea level rise, salt water intrusion, drought, flooding, coastal inundation, ocean conditions (tides, swells, waves, acidification) and impacts on health (e.g. malaria and dengue), water resources, agriculture and fisheries (invasive species, etc.).

Dr Fakhruddin’s presentation reinforced the WMO’s approach to Climate Risk and Early Warning System (CREWS) initiatives and requirements for disaster loss data standardisation, which offers more accurate risk assessment.

The outcomes of both the Multi-Hazard Early Warning System and Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platform Meetings held in May in Cancun, Mexico, were also summarised in his talk. Dr Fakhruddin led the panel discussions and working group at the Mexico events.

The next PMC will be held in Samoa in 2019. The PMC consists of members of the Pacific National Meteorological and Hydrological Services supported by its technical partners, regional organisations, non-government organisations and private sectors.

The 14-17 August meeting was co-hosted by the Government of Solomon Islands, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Kaikōura Earthquake Rapid Disaster Mapping

At 00:02:56 on 14 November 2016 a complex sequence of 21 fault ruptures with a combined magnitude of 7.8 Mw rocked Hurunui-Kaikōura, their collective energy tearing 250km northward at 7,200 kilometres per hour.

The seismic leviathan lasted some two minutes. Fortunately deaths and injuries were few, however, daily life became unrecognisable for thousands of residents.

At Kaikōura, a massive shoreline shelf was thrust upwards, while parts of the South Island were shunted more than 5m closer to the North Island and other parts raised by up to 8m.

The ensuing tsunami waves reached a peak height of about 2m at Kaikōura and 7m at Goose Bay. A tsunami some 5m high hit Little Pigeon Bay on Banks Peninsula.

Tsunami waves were also recorded in Wellington Harbour, Castlepoint, Lyttleton and the Chatham Islands. State Highway One (SH1) and the main trunk rail line running to the north and south of Kaikōura were blocked by slips, as was the inland Kaikōura road.

Massive changes to the sea shore and seabed had rendered the town’s port – its economic heart – commercially inoperable.

With road and rail links severed, Kaikōura township – home to approximately 3,700 people – and its wide rural catchment scattered with many farms and tiny, remote communities, were only accessible by air.

It was early on the morning of November 14

T+T natural hazards rapid responders flew out of Christchurch, Nelson and Wellington to undertake an aerial survey for New Zealand’s natural disaster insurer of residential land and buildings, the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

Dr Sjoerd van Ballegooy, T+T’s Geotechnical Technical Director, was on the Christchurch helicopter reconnaissance flight. Initially believing the Hanmer Springs township would be in the disaster zone, the team was surprised to find it was a reasonably peaceful, sunny day as they flew over the North Canterbury town. Hanmer had sustained a jolt and some minor shake damage to buildings, but was largely unaffected. Just 30km to the east, however, it was a very different story.

“As we flew over the township of Rotherham, we saw the first signs of damage, like major cliff collapses,” Sjoerd recalled.

“Then as we flew northwards over the Waiau River, all of a sudden it was ‘boom!’ – the Waiau township and surrounding areas were a disaster zone of fault ruptures, land displacement and massive slope failures.”

Sjoerd’s team tracked the devastation onward to Kaikōura, recording “a mess” of landslides, dammed creeks and damaged infrastructure. It was clear that there would be long-term consequences and no “quick fix”.

The earthquake’s epicentre was 15kms north-east of Culverden and 95km from Christchurch. Instead of radiating the immense seismic energy outwards, the fault rupture had started in the tiny Hurunui district settlement and progressively “unzipped” the landscape in a north-easterly direction towards the coastal townships of Kaikōura and Clarence, aiming all its seismic might at New Zealand’s capital city.

“All that energy was directed in the north-eastern direction into Wellington,” Sjoerd said. “We were surprised at the lack of damage to the south and the west of the epicentre.”

Lying 250km to the north of Kaikōura, Wellington sustained significant damage to mid-rise buildings and its port. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but had the earthquake occurred in the middle of a business day, there is no doubt there would have been significant injuries and potentially deaths.

On the ground, T+T engineers slipped into rapid response mode, compiling geospatial data from a range of sources and reconnaissance surveys by various agencies to develop liquefaction, landslide and fault rupture maps, shaking maps and to create a single spatial online viewer to assist all agencies involved in the response and recovery. These maps were updated on a daily basis as more detailed information became available. The building portfolio was also overlaid to get an indication on the number of buildings likely to be affected by different levels of shaking, liquefaction, landslips and fault rupture, to inform the insurance assessment response.

Satellite imagery was utilised to augment the land-based landslide mapping. However, cloud cover in the affected area following the earthquakes obscured some areas vital to accurate visual assessment of the damage. Dr Bapon Fakhruddin’s expert knowledge of global disaster networks saved the day.

As T+T’s international disaster risk reduction and hazard modelling expert, Bapon is also Co-Chair of the CODATA task group Linked Open Data for Global Disaster Risk Research (LODGD), Co-Chair of the Disaster Loss DATA group of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) and a trusted advisor to the United Nations on Natural Hazards and Climate Change.

Deploying his LODGD and IRDR connections, Bapon contacted the Chinese Government and secured additional satellite imagery captured at different times following the earthquakes, augmenting the pre-existing set of satellite images and bringing the full, mind-numbing extent of the earthquake’s effects into sharp relief.

By 5pm on November 14

Just 17 hours after the earthquake, T+T had provided EQC with a comprehensive report in time for its briefing with then Prime Minister John Key. Our team then went on to provide 24-hourly updates.

T+T’s “click and see” interactive maps, geocoded photos and damage reports allowed EQC, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM), engineers, scientists, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), KiwiRail and other first responders to effectively triage their efforts.

Users were also able to provide their own photos and observations to update the viewer, resulting in constantly evolving data sets offering improved accuracy and, subsequently, best possible outcomes for all involved.

The Kaikōura earthquake is now described by experts as “the most complex earthquake ever studied” and continues to redefine scientific understanding of earthquake processes (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology: Study of Complex 2016 Quake May Alter Hazard Models, March 2017); Dr Kate Clark, GNS Science, NZ Herald, March 2017.

Critically, the Hurunui-Kaikōura event has also served to highlight the immense value of international cooperation following natural disasters, not only on a local level, but in terms of international research and understanding. The Kaikōura GIS Viewer – created using T+T’s proprietary ProjectOrbit software – has since attracted global interest.

In his February 2017 letter to LODGD Co-Chair Professor Li Guoqing, the New Zealand Government’s Minister for Civil Defence and Minister responsible for EQC, Hon. Gerry Brownlee, thanked the Chinese Government for its prompt and free access to the TripleSat images.

Direct fiscal costs arising from damage caused by the Kaikōura earthquake series could reach as much as $NZ10 billion, including operating expenses (for example, EQC claims costs) and capital works expenditure.

The economic impact has been felt throughout New Zealand. Damage to road and rail infrastructure affects not only Kaikōura, but also the transport of people and freight between much of the rest of the South Island and the North Island.

T+T is privileged to be part of NCTIR, the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance, which aims to have the transport corridor north of Kaikōura fully open by the end of 2017. The inland route is now open, as is the alternative SH1 route via Lewis Pass to Picton. Dredging of the harbour is almost complete.

Improved natural hazards resilience – taking into account such things as predicted sea level rise – is part of the rebuild process. Locals and tourists alike can also look forward to seeing one of New Zealand’s most captivating coastal and marine environments restored, with improved access to, and enjoyment of, Kaikōura’s natural assets.

Cresting the Wave: EWS Success For T+T in Fiji

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin’s dedication to creating natural hazards resilient communities across the Asia-Pacific region has been rewarded yet again – this time in Fiji. Thanks to his expertise and commitment, Tonkin + Taylor International has beaten off stiff competition to be awarded the Fiji Government contract for the design of a tsunami early warning dissemination system.

Fiji is one of the largest and most populated countries in the Pacific. It has a total of 330 islands with a combined land area of 18,333 km² and a sea zone of 1.3 million km².

The majority of its people live on the two largest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Suva, the political and business capital of Fiji, lies at the south-eastern side of the main island, Viti Levu.

Fiji regularly experiences natural disasters. Its proximity to complex fault lines, coupled with its tropical climate, make it highly susceptible to cyclones, floods, earthquakes, tsunami and drought.

The nation lies in a complex tectonic setting along the boundary between the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate. Southwards from Fiji, the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the Australian Plate along the Tonga Trench forming the Tonga Ridge island arc system and the Lau Basin back-arc basin.

To the southwest of Fiji the Australian Plate is subducting beneath the Pacific Plate forming the Vanuatu Ridge island arc system and the North Fiji back-arc basin.

Bapon says the present current public notification system is mainly via radio, although more recently, SMS text warnings have been introduced.

While those systems are effective when there is 72 hours advance warning of meteorological events such as heavy rainfall and strong winds, they’ve been proven to fall well short of the mark when rapid onset hazard warnings are needed, placing lives and livelihoods at risk.

For rapid onset disasters (i.e. earthquake and tsunami) monitoring and warning, they’re effectively useless, as was demonstrated on January 3 this year. At 9.52 am, a 7.2Mw local earthquake sparked a Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre alert warning Fiji to expect waves of .30m to 1m. However, due to Fijian authorities’ inability to rapidly and accurately assess the risk – together with a lack of contractual agreements with telcos – there were lengthy delays in alerting the Fijian people.

“The radio is a robust communication system, but not highly effective for rapid alert notification system and SMS/mobile will not work unless Government set up a standard agreement with mobile operators for cell broadcasting or mass SMS broadcasting,” Bapon says.

“As mobile companies control by private entity, without a strong policy and legislation on communication, it’s hard to ensure all mobile operators support disaster communications.”

That means rebuilding from the ground up: “It’s recommended to make the system redundant and devise a new system using HF/VHF, mobile, radio, television, etc.”

Sirens will also form part of Fiji’s new EWS. Bapon says it remains a robust system, effective for rapid alerts. But it requires regular testing and protocol to ensure its function when need to activate.