Thailand’s population of nearly 70 million to be protected by new early warning and hazard monitoring technologies
The national government of Thailand and Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) have just operationalized a new early warning and hazard monitoring system called ThaiAWARE. The system will provide advanced decision support capabilities to the country’s disaster managers and help protect its 70 million residents and millions of visitors who make Thailand a vacation destination each year.
“Early warning is a really important function and one that has been proven to save lives and reduce loss from disasters,” said Regional Advisor Harlan Hale of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. “Unfortunately, from the impacts of climate change, especially in this region, we can expect more disaster events and perhaps more severe disaster events.” USAID provided critical funding support for the ThaiAWARE project throughout recent years. The ThaiAWARE supplies decision makers with real-time, dynamic information from both international and national sources and offers the world’s most advanced multi-hazard exposure modeling capabilities in a single platform. This comprehensive system for Thailand’s disaster managers enables them to jump into action which means a faster response. A faster response means a better response with fewer impacts and a speedier recovery.
“I believe the ThaiAWARE system will become an important tool in making Thailand resilient,” said Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Director General Boontham Lertsukekasem, who expressed his appreciation for the USAID-funded project and highlighted its importance in enhancing early warning for Thailand. “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to USAID and PDC once again for your support.”
DDPM and PDC—a University of Hawaii Applied Science and Technology Center—celebrated the launch of the new ThaiAWARE system during a virtual ceremony on Dec. 15 marking the completion of the project. Various government and nongovernmental stakeholders attended, including representatives from DDPM, the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC), the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), USAID and more.
It was during the aftermath of the devastating M9.0 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 2004 that the government of Thailand first partnered with PDC. “PDC was at ground zero during the formation of Thailand’s NDWC and we helped implement the nation’s first early warning system in partnership with the DDPM in 2006,” said PDC Deputy Executive Director Chris Chiesa. The initial system, now branded ThaiAWARE, was PDC’s first customized, remote deployment of DisasterAWARE in Asia, and only the second world-wide. “The system we just launched with the government of Thailand includes the new early warning and multi-hazard monitoring technologies offered in DisasterAWARE, as well as critical predictive hazard impact analysis tools and hundreds of new national data layers to support effective preparedness and response,” Chiesa added.
Chiesa explained that this is another important milestone in a longstanding partnership of more than 15 years, for which he anticipates exciting new developments in the coming year. He shared details of a pending U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)-funded program that will leverage the ThaiAWARE system for public alerting.
“It will allow mass notification,” Chiesa said of the project planned for early 2022. “It will allow residents and visitors of Thailand to receive disaster notifications for tsunamis, floods, wildfires, COVID outbreaks. We’re extremely hopeful that we get this project started very soon.”