Quotidian Early Warning Solutions for Developing Economies
Integrating Early Warning Solutions to quotidian development infrastructures and home appliances will reduce costs to reach all people at risks.
In India, disaster casualties have been consistently high inspite of Its robust early warning structures. Between 1986 and 2008 India relayed 145349 flood forecasts with 95.35 percent of accuracy. During the same period at least 34674 human casualties were reported in floods. Most recently, in 2017 floods 943 people died India.
Massive casualties are indicative of an ineffective end to end early warning system. The evolution of systems for dissemination of early warning to the local communities has not kept pace with the development of forecast technologies. The ‘last mile’ connectivity still mostly depends upon manual systems. Although states like Odisha has taken pioneering initiative and installed tsunami alert towers in 166 locations. This is at a cost of 10.9 million USD. 100% coverage in 5700 kms tsunami prone coasts will be so costly that for resource allocation it may most likely, lose out to the populist and key development schemes.
This project emphasises on providing low cost early warning solutions. Some as cheap as 15 USD. That is 2490 USD as against 10.9 million USD. This can be achieved by integrating EW solutions in the quotidian development infrastructures and home appliances. The strategy will further subside the costs as most of it will be willingly self financed by households because these are the essential commodities of need. We just need to design a smart multi-purpose device. So I propose this idea with a conviction that It can bring a revolutionary change existing Early Warning system.
The project will work on a combination of innovative solutions including 1) the Lifeboxes 2) the Lifetowers 3) Volunteer Network Management System (VNMS)
- Lifeboxes : Lifeboxes works on an idea of converting TV set top boxes into siren alert systems. TV set top boxes are mostly run on tower and satellite based networks and therefore it is possible to track and control these devises from a central control room. Set top boxes designs can be upgraded with a minimum cost to work as siren alerts. Central Control room can track devices in areas likely to be affected to send warning to all people at risks.
- Lifetower: Lifetower is solar powered street light fitted with water sensors at the danger level for inundation. As soon as the sensor detects inundation, it activates the community alarm system and disseminates warning through siren and text messages It also activates a network of lifetowers strategically located in the downward gradient of flood prone settlements giving sufficient lead time.
- Volunteer Network Management System (VNMS): is a decision support system not only to control the lifetowers and lifeboxes but also to ensure effective coordination amongst the local actors in last mile during disasters. In normal times, VNMS will provide access to critical information on day to day development assistance.
In South Asia where countries fair poorly on development parameters, allocating resources for dedicated early system Govts is a constraint. Such low cost solutions can bring a paradigm shift in EW approaches.
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:New Delhi, Delhi, India
What makes our solution innovative:
The idea rests on the novel approach of integrating early warning systems into existing infrastructures and technologies. The creative application of ordinary appliances will allow for widespread penetration in a majority of houses and settlements,which will ensure wider outreach and adoption. The low cost nature of this addresses the general inability of local Governments to reach out to all people as existing technologies requires heavy investments.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Success of any end-to-end early warning system is ultimately determined only at the last mile. The solution uses technical aid to improve the last mile warning dissemination system. The Lifetowers detects inundation in the last mile and disseminate warnings. The Lifeboxes converts a common home appliance into a siren system ensuring penetration of realtime warning at houshold levels and VNMS improves coordination amongst local actors, allows for ownership of these solutions by the communities and additionally provides access to development information to communities making the system relevant in non disaster period as well.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
1. To successfully pilot and demonstrate comprehensive and low cost early warning dissemination systems in coastal Odisha and in atleast one transboundary river basin between India - Nepal, India - Bhutan or India- Bangladesh.
2. To advocate for effective end to end early warning system by demonstrating the viability of low cost alternatives and strengthening regional cooperation for scale up and replication in South Asia.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
1. In collaboration with the Odisha Government, to expand the outreach of pilot demonstration from one coastal districts to six coastal district in Odisha, spanning at a stretch of 482 kms. And advocate with coastal governments for replication across the eastern coast of India
2. In collaboration with the Trans-Boundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) team in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar, expand the pilot of low cost EWS to atleast 3 transboundary river basins and advocate with South Asian governments for effective end to end EWS.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
The proposed solutions try to establish the organic connect of the communities with the mainstream Early Warning systems by making them active stakeholders in entire spectrum of EW. It cracks the vital bottlenecks in real time dissemination by proposing simplistic uses of street lights and home appliances and hence making the whole solutions very affordable and accessible. VNMS allows easy access to information on development schemes and benefits thus making the solution relevant even beyond disasters.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
Lifetower was developed through individual innovation grant, to the team lead, from UN OCHA in 2014-15. This was an individual endeavor. A very basic lab prototype was developed through this grant. VNMS was piloted through Oxfam in 2016-17 with the help of three implementing partners in Odisha. It has an outreach of nearly 160 villages in 03 river basins. Lifeboxes is at idea stage. A new team will have to be developed to work on these ideas collectively.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
We plan to organise Oxfam's Odisha team with its three implementing partners in coastal Odisha and TROSA team in India, Nepal and Bangladesh to work on the idea collectively. In 12 months the focus will in 01 coastal districts in Odisha and 01 transboundary river basin in South Asia. Small Pilot will have an outreach of 500 to 1000 families and around 250 to 300 families. Expected outcomes will be visible from the next disaster occurrence. This will be expanded to 6 coastal districts and atleast 3 transboundary river basins in 03 years.
How our solution team is organized:Non-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:1
How many years we have been working on our solution:3-4 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
At the individual level, the team has proven capacities to conceptualise ideas around early warning and leverage resources through small institutional grants from agencies such as UN-OCHA. Certain components of the proposed ideas have received awards at MIT's climatecolab platform.
Oxfam's Pilot initiative - the VNMS features in "Defying Climate Change - Putting Women and Children first." The book is a compilation of best practices documented by UNICEF and CANSA
Oxfam's TROSA project is operational in 4 countries in South Asia and has a focus on Early Warning as well. Project has a technical partner base.
Our revenue model:
The idea is based on integrating EW solutions in the day to day infrastructure and home appliances. This will not only enhance the utility of these appliances but will help corporate agencies to build a viable business model around it. It will also be good brand visibility of many corporate and private sector companies interested in investing in this integrated model. The pilot also expects to influence additional private sector companies to invest in research and development on issues like early warning thus promoting corporate social responsibility as well.
Why we are applying to Solve:
Solve will provide relevant platform and opportunities to secure technical collaboration and seed support. Inputs from evaluators and peers on this platform will also be very helpful in improving the idea by bringing in the newer perspective through collective ideation.
The key barriers for our solution:
Working with community had always been our strength. Being closer to field has helped us to Identify most relevant community based problems and also reach out at probable solutions to some of these solutions. Technical collaboration can help us in actualizing many of our solutions which are at different phases of inception and pilots. Solve has a platform which can help us in securing right technical collaboration which we can take to the most marginalised communities in some of the worst affected regions in south asia.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Mr. Animesh Prakash Oxfam India