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Emergency Alert Systems in India


A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on November 3, 2023, accompanied by aftershocks, revealing notable deficiencies in emergency alert systems in and around Delhi.


GS III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Emergency Alert Systems in India
  2. Gaps and Challenges in Emergency Alert Systems

Emergency Alert Systems in India

Google’s Android Earthquake Early Warning System
  • Sensor-based Detection:
    • Utilizes sensors in Android smartphones to detect seismic activity.
  • Alerts and Data Sharing:
    • Alerts users about potential earthquakes.
    • Collects and shares data with seismological agencies for improved detection and analysis.
  • Collaboration:
    • Launched in September 2023 in collaboration with NDMA and NCS, Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • Trigger Mechanism:
    • Alerts triggered based on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale.
    • MMI scale measures the effects of an earthquake at a specific location, providing a range from 1 to 12.
Cell Broadcast Alert System (CBAS)
  • Cutting-edge Technology:
    • Empowers dissemination of critical and time-sensitive disaster management messages to all mobile devices in specified geographical areas.
  • Versatile Applications:
    • Delivers emergency alerts (e.g., Tsunamis, Flash Floods, Earthquakes), public safety messages, evacuation notices, and other critical information.
  • Collaborative Development:
    • Developed in collaboration with DOT, NDMA, and other agencies for generating and disseminating alerts.
Ministry of Earth Science’s National Centre for Seismology (NCS)
  • Monitoring and Reporting:
    • Responsible for monitoring and reporting seismic activity in India and its neighborhood.
  • Observatory Network:
    • Operates a network of seismological observatories nationwide.
  • Real-time Data and Information:
    • Provides real-time earthquake and tsunami data and information.
  • Public Alerts:
    • Maintains the BhooKamp website and mobile app for public earthquake alerts and updates.

Gaps and Challenges in Emergency Alert Systems

Lack of Standardization
  • Inconsistent Information:
    • India lacks a single, standardized emergency alert system, leading to inconsistent and unreliable information for both the public and authorities.
  • Operational Independence:
    • Multiple agencies and platforms operate independently, causing confusion, duplication, and delays in alert generation and dissemination.
Technological Limitations
  • System Failures:
    • During recent tremors around Delhi, the NCS website and app crashed due to a sudden surge in traffic, highlighting significant coordination challenges during emergency situations.
  • Data Accuracy and Timeliness:
    • The existing systems struggle to provide accurate and timely information on the location, magnitude, intensity, and impact of disasters, primarily due to limitations in data collection, analysis, and transmission.
Communication and Awareness
  • Limited Reach:
    • Emergency alert systems face challenges in reaching and informing the masses effectively.
  • Awareness and Preparedness Gap:
    • Lack of awareness and preparedness among the public and authorities hinders the effectiveness of the alert systems.
  • Interpretation Challenges:
    • Many people do not know how to access, interpret, and respond to alerts, often ignoring or dismissing them as false alarms.
  • Educational Campaigns:
    • There is a notable absence of public education and awareness campaigns on disaster risks, mitigation measures, and response mechanisms.

-Source: The Hindu

July 2024