Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in Southeast Asia – the country has been hit with major cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis in the past decade killing tens of thousands of people. But the Southeast Asian archipelago is getting a boost from Japan – as part of a bilateral cooperation project, an advanced early warning system for earthquakes and tsunami modeled on Japan’s own domestic emergency warning system will be implemented in the country.
On April 29, Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Yoshitaka Shindo and Indonesian Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring signed a bilateral cooperation agreement that would create such an emergency warning system. Japanese manufacturers NTT Data Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. will bear the development and manufacturing tasks of the project to help create the system. Japan’s internal affairs ministry is also considering giving financial support to Indonesia through official development assistance. Despite several massive tsunamis that hit the region in the past 10 years, majority of Southeast Asia still has not developed emergency warning systems to alert residents of potential disasters. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake just off Sumatra, and in Indonesia alone there were more than 160,000 victims. At that time, evacuation was delayed due to the lack of information relay systems. In addition, Indonesia is a large archipelagic nation, with about 17,500 islands, and the quick and widespread relay of information remains difficult.
To counter these situations, the Indonesian government will have the technology from Japan’s communications and information networks to analyze disaster information, and then promptly transmit emergency information via the Internet, mobile phones, and traditional broadcast networks such as TV and radio. In isolated areas where cellular signals are scarce, satellites will be used to transmit information, hopefully fast enough to be broadcast using speakers at public facilities such as mosques. In light of this deal, Japan’s internal affairs ministry looks to offer its assistance to other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in introducing similar emergency warning systems.