Advancing a New Trans-border Disaster Information System for ASEAN Region with Geospatial Technology

Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) held a series of workshops to discuss and advance the needs to strengthen ASEAN’s collective/integrated disaster responses, as well as the concept of expected disaster risk management (DRM) system in ASEAN region. Two of the workshops were held in Jakarta, September 2014 and in Tokyo, December 2014. The first was the kick-off workshop involving experts from ASEAN Member States and Japan. The latter focused on discussion of the sustainable development for the ASEAN Member States by means of effective development of space and geospatial information technology based infrastructure maximizing the disaster risk prevention effect and its economic benefits, achieving resilience to disasters.

In the second workshop, country reports from 4 experts of ASEAN Member States (Ms. M. Vicente from Philippines, Dr. Pham Thi Thanh Nga from Vietnam, Mr. U Than Hlaing from Myamar, andDr. Agus Hidayat from Indonesia) were presented during these workshops focusing on the followings:

  • Current and future challenges relating to disaster mitigation and management, concerning with more severe natural hazards in the context of climate change
  • Current status and future plan of using space and geospatial information technology in disaster mitigation
  • Potential benefits from new trans-border disaster information system for whole ASEAN
  • How to cooperate with new trans-border disaster information system
Photo at the 2nd workshop in Tokyo, 5 Dec. 2014
Photo at the 2nd workshop in Tokyo, 5 Dec. 2014

Participants further discussed on the needs to strengthen ASEAN’s collective/integrated disaster response, especially focusing on specific needs for space & geospatial technologies and possible contribution to ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), based on needs analysis. The problem of how ASEAN Member States can sustainably operate the collective/integrated disaster response system from institutional aspect including the possibility of public-private partnership also raised the participants’ attention.

As a conclusion of the workshop, Ass. Prof. Naohiko Kohtake, a sub-leader of this ERIA workshop study summarized on the agreements of followings: a) Needs Analysis for Disaster Management in ASEAN Member States especially focusing on the responses to ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Program, identified the great potential of space & geospatial technologies to strengthening ASEAN’s integrated disaster response; b) Front Line Technologies which can contribute to trans-national disaster management system have been listed. The components are: satellite observation, satellite communication, satellite positioning, analysis (prediction model), and integration.

The last workshop is planned in March 2015 in Sendai, Japan together with time of the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction for the final discussion towards conducting ERIA project proposal of “Applying space and geospatial technology for building resilience in ASEAN region”.

Photo at the GECCo workshop in Hanoi 11-12 Nov. 2014
Photo at the GECCo workshop in Hanoi 11-12 Nov. 2014

At a national scale, UN-SPIDER and Ministry of  Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) organized“Geospatially Enabling Community Collaboration  (GECCo) Workshop for Vietnam” with the aim of supporting and enabling the application of space technology in disaster prevention in Vietnam at all levels on November 11 -12, 2014.

During the workshop, the participants agreed that it is neccesary to learn experiences of other countries in space technology activities supporting disaster mitigation at all phases, especially in forecasting and warning. Participants also agreed that applications of geospatial technology should be widely implemented in building disaster risk maps of flooding, sea level rise, storm surges, in research and development of natural resource management, disaster risk resilience and climate change adaptation.

Mr. Hoang Van Thang, the Deputy Minister of MARD, emphasized based on an uptodate results archied in infracstructure and database development and human resources, said Vietnam should enforce “The National Institutional Framework” together with full implementation plan on geospatial techonoly applications in disaster management to effectively use geospational informative system in decision making on disaster risk management and response.

About the Author: Dr. Pham Nga is one of the ASEAN-US fellows from Vietnam, Pham is now working at National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategic Studies, belonging to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Her work will focus on the early warning system for disaster risk reduction in Vietnam with a particular attention to storm and floods, which are the most frequently disasters occurred in Vietnam and result in large damage of deaths, missing, and economic lost every year. Her work will include evaluating the functionality of Vietnam’s EWS and will be drafting recommendations to improve effectiveness. She also anticipates doing a case study in one city focused on how they are implementing EWS for floods and storms.