[LINK] Tsunami warning and response for Samoa

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Oct 1 13:29:46 AEST 2009

At 13:04 +1000 1/10/09, Tom Worthington wrote:
>The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre detected a magnitude 7.9 earthquake
>in the Samoa Islands region at 1748Z 29 September 2009. ...

I've been out of uniform for a lo-o-o-ong time, and had to look up 
Zulu Time:  http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/info/timezone.htm

The Samoas are in the same time-zone just east of the dateline:

17:48 UT+0 = 03:48 UT+10 (e.g. Canberra).

That's 06:48 UT-11, but Day-1 (Somoas).

Not the *worst* time of day, but still awkward.

Reminds me of that old line attributed many years ago to Jack 
Brabham:  you can calculate the value we place on a human life by 
dividing the cost of replacing all roadside electricity poles by the 
number of people who die hitting them.  (It's a gross 
over-simplification, of course, but there's a moral point in there 


In response a
>Tsunami Warning and Watch was issued 16 minutes later at 1804Z (Bulletin
>1). In all 11 messages were issued, the last being 0501Z 30 September
>2009. The centre issued messages for both Hawaii and the Pacific.
>Sequence	Time	Type
>1	29/09/09 18:03	Expanding Regional Warning
>2	29/09/09 18:05	Watch Statement
>3	29/09/09 18:54	Expanding Regional Warning Supplement
>4	29/09/09 18:57	Watch Supplement Statement
>5	29/09/09 20:21	Expanding Regional Warning Supplement
>6	29/09/09 20:23	Watch Cancellation Statement
>7	29/09/09 21:34	Expanding Regional Warning Cancellation
>8	30/09/09 01:58	Advisory Statement
>9	30/09/09 03:03	Advisory Supplement Statement
>10	30/09/09 03:57	Advisory Supplement Statement
>11	30/09/09 05:01	Final Advisory Statement
>Due to the closeness of the earthquake to Samoa and limitations in the
>technology available, the warning message was issued 5 minutes after the
>predicted arrival time of the Tsunami (1759Z) at the first population
>centre, Pago Pago in American Samoa.
>The centre issues warnings to national authorities and there is then a
>delay while local authorities decide if, and how, to warn the public.
>At best only 11 minutes warning could have been provided (assuming
>instantaneous detection, analysis and alert). Telecommunications systems
>can provide a warning within one minute.
>The warning was also forwarded by email by UNESCO to the Interim Indian
>Ocean warning system mailing list. This message was dated Tue, 29 Sep
>2009 18:04:43 GMT. It was received from UNESCO approximately three
>minutes later by the Fastmail.fm mail system and a summary by SMS via
>Vodafone Australia within one minute.
>Samoa uses a system of sirens and church bells to the warn the
>population of Tsunami. The USA has a system of "NOAA Weather Radio"
>which issues automated warnings. There is a NOAA transmitter in American
>Samoa, located in Pago Pago.
>During a visit to Samoa in 2005 to teach web design for UNESCO, I
>noticed that while a national digital telephone network had not yet been
>installed, there was a limited private GSM service (a similar service
>existed in Tonga). There were proposals for a GSM network in Samoa in
>2007, but it is not clear how this has progressed. The significance of
>these networks is that they provide the SMS and SMS cell broadcast
>networks, which could be used to issue emergency warnings.
>Labels: Emergency Alert System, emergency management, Samoa, Tsunami
>Links in my blog at:
>Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
>PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
>Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
>Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274
>Link mailing list
>Link at mailman.anu.edu.au

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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