Inmarsat Powers Alert System After 2004 Tsunami
The Director General of UNESCO marked the second anniversary of the 2004 south-Asian tsunami by announcing an initiative to provide free Inmarsat links for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System.
Speaking on December 26, exactly two years after 200,000 people died in the disaster, Koichiro Matsuura said the early warning system would ensure a safer future for countries at risk of another killer wave.
Mr Matsuura said a new partnership between UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and Inmarsat would provide free links to 50 sea-level sensors in the Indian Ocean.
This would make "this part of the tsunami warning system the most advanced real-time sea-level network in the world," he said.
Data from the sensors, which register and measure off-shore earthquakes and any resulting tsunamis, is sent via Inmarsat to centres in the Pacific and to the Japanese Meteorological Agency. These then warn any countries that are at risk.
The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System was set up in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, which caused such loss of life because no regional tsunami warning system then existed.
The new system can warn authorities in 27 countries that a tsunami is coming, allowing them to put coastal community evacuation plans in action.
Alerts via Inmarsat
An extensive network of seismic instruments, deep ocean pressure gauges and sea-level gauges can pick up seismic activity that could trigger a tsunami. Alerts are issued via Inmarsat C.
Inmarsat is also involved in land-based early warning systems in the region. In Thailand, the tsunami monitoring centre in Bangkok uses Inmarsat D+ to trigger beach-front sirens.
In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, Inmarsat systems such as GAN, Mini M and R-BGAN played a major role in providing emergency communications for the massive relief effort.