Critical Countdown: Using Local Data to improve Tsunami Warnings

In Indonesia, there are 164 cities vulnerable to tsunamis. That’s 11,000 kilometers of coastline where millions live. Dr. Harktuni: When an earthquake off the coast generates a tsunami, coastal communities only have about twenty minutes to evacuate. The information people receive in the first five minutes can save their lives. Despite government investment to prepare people for earthquakes and tsunamis, there is still chaos
and panic. USAID supports researchers around the world who are examining the world’s toughest problems. Andy Sisson: Research is about learning and investigating and understanding. These problems are really complicated, and having scientists
from different parts of the world, different perspectives, different expertise complement
each other and can lead to a better product. Dr. Harkunti:  I decided to start a research
project. We wanted to learn if there were any communication gaps between the government and the people at risk. First definitely we needed data. I brought my students to interview  local
community members, radio stations, local government officials, mosque leaders,
schools, and community groups. We learned that there were many communication
gaps Dr. Harkunti’s interview data was used to
create a real-life model of citizen’s behavior during a tsunami. We learned that the government can utilize community emergency response teams, mosque speakers, schools and local radio stations. This data is helping the government
make policy decisions so people can get accurate information quickly. Andy: Good research on the ground here is not only beneficial for Indonesia, but beneficial around the world. Dr. Harkunti: We know there will always be natural disasters. Through my research we are learning how to live in harmony with this risk.

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