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Internet Governance 27 October 2013

Power of Internet for Disaster and Environmental Control

The internet Governance Forum 2013 that was currently held in Bali, Indonesia from 21 – 25 October has recently ended. It brought many stakeholders to discuss in open forums about many super interesting topics related to Internet. As one of the IGF Ambassador this year, I`d like to share the first session I attended on how Internet functions as the disaster and environmental control.

This session was moderated by Izumi Aizu the Senior Research Fellow & Professor at Institute for InfoSocinomics, Tama University and presented several speakers;  Fumi Yamazaki, a Developer Advocate in Developer Relations team at Google, Ambar Sari Dewi from Jalin Merapi Indonesia and Tomas Lamanauskas, the head of the Corporate Strategy Division at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Ambar Sari Dewi from Jalin Merapi (Merapi Circle Information Network) began the session by sharing how Jalin Merapi utilizes technology to monitor the Merapi volcano activities through the community radios and internet. As has been known, mount Merapi that is located between Yogyakarta and Central Java Province, is among the most active volcano on earth. Merapi’s character is hard to predict. The melting lava that came with deadly hot clouds could kill thousands of lives at Merapi’s slop. It only took less than 10 minutes for the flaming lava and hot clouds to reach villagers residential said Ambar. Jalin Merapi has taken a role in bridging information from many sources in Merapi Mountain, this information then being uploaded to the website for wider access. Aside from field-update, Jalin Merapi website has many interactive features such as online messenger, discussion forum, maps and databases. Field-update are regularly delivered by handy talky and tag-message from cell-phone. Each tag-message sent to Jalin Merapi will automatically be displayed on website’s front page. Some villagers in Merapi slope who live in the city and abroad were able to monitor the villages’ situation through online messenger. Others were posting complaints and request of help by using tag-message. That information was also useful for others who are willing to provide help for the Merapi victims.

The next speaker in the session was Fumi Yamazaki from Google. She was sharing her experience on her several personal projects related to Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami 2011. She also elaborated about how to help people recover from earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku area using technology. Some of her interesting projects were Tohoku Tech Dojo; a project to help youngsters in Tohoku to learn programming, The Great East Japan Earthquake Big Data Workshop: Project 311; a project to collect data from various entities, provide them to researchers and developers to analyze, in order to prepare for future disaster, and Recovery Hangout; a project to use live streaming service for the victims of Tohoku disaster to voice their opinion via the Internet. She also discussed about Google Person Finder app and how it provides great support during the 2011 Japan Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster.

Having two earlier topics presented on disaster response with internet, Tomas Lamanauskas as the last speaker brought up a little different topic on how internet contributed in environmental control. He discussed important role of ITU as the advisor for environmental climate change. He also brought up many significant involvement of ITU in responding the global climate change. ITU sees Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), such as satellites, mobile phones or the Internet, play a key role to address the major challenges related with climate change and sustainable development. Therefore, ITU is promoting transformative solutions by raising awareness on how to ICTs can be used.  For disaster response, Tomas also said that ITU provides satellite equipment for countries  requesting assistance during the disasters and ITU also created special call number for disaster relief in the format of (country code)-888.

Author: Teuku  A. Geumpana
The IGF Ambassador 2013
School of Computer Science Binus International University
Fulbright Scholar 2007 – University of Arkansas at Little Rock
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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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