February 06, 2014

Learning is great...Learning never ends....

India has experienced mass destruction caused by cyclones, storm surges in coastal regions, earthquakes, serial monsoon flooding, landslides, fire accidents, and industrial disasters. The growth of population, coupled with the construction of poorly designed structures, subject Indian cities to enhanced levels of risk to life and property loss in the event of disasters writ large. A lack of basic preparedness, substantially increases the damage at a rate of 2% of the country's GDP (World Bank, NDMA). So a team of volunteers we started a group called SMARTER (Social Media and Related Technologies for Emergency Readiness). We seek to popularize emergency readiness by the innovative use of social media and offline workshops. We aim to employ smart communication templates for different emergency scenarios, train young professionals on their use and operationalize these among the masses

SMARTER Mission
To develop an Integrated Emergency Preparedness Strategy, which will be used in the event of a natural or a man-made disaster. SMARTER's aim is to provide the means to utilize all available resources (innovatively to Be PREPARED for potential disasters. Our goal is to deal with emergencies efficiently and to RESPOND Wisely to save lives, protect property, and promote the means to RECOVER Properly.

Work completed

We have designed and developed SMARTER website. This is a responsive website and be viewed with ease on mobile phones too. We also have a very happening facebook page with 306 people following the page. The team members post important articles relevant to emergency preparedness on the page regularly.

We have come out with a bilingual (Hindi and English) e-manual, which would be a ready reckoner for emergencies. We have also developed sound files in Hindi and English. We also have sound files of interviews of respondents on our website

We visited several places affected by disasters and understand DISASTER risks and communicate these risks using social media to students, professionals and the masses. We visited Andaman and Nicobar Islands the most affected place during December, 2004 Tsunami in India and Sundarbans most affected by Cyclone Aila in May, 2009


We encourage individuals to sign up on our FB page and on our webpage and join the Emergency Notification Group, from where they can subscribe to disaster/safety /security-related information.

We have devised a multi-layered, peer-to-peer (P2P) approach for communication to ensure that only accurate and verified information is transmitted, thereby preventing panic and fear-mongering among the masses in time of crisis.

We have already conducted two workshops in Kolkata in Sept 2012, two workshops for school and college students in Chennai, one workshop for professionals in Chennai.

We have addressed more than 700 people on the National Technology day at CSIR on 13 May 2013. The Project Leader Dr. Sophia Caramalin also made a Radio talk about SMARTER and its activities with AIR, Chennai, which was broadcasted on 18th May 2013.


We did a SMARTER show case in the CSIR-SERC campus on the Foundation Day 26 Sept 2013. We had approximately 7000 visitors on that day. The SMARTER volunteers explained the various activities of SMARTER to the visitors

SMARTER was invited by the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India to display SMARTER and its activities to the rural public, at the “Bharat Nirman – Public Information Campaign” during 1-3 Sept 2013 at Karaikal, Tamil Nadu, TN. Two of the Team Members of SMARTER (Dr. Carmalin Sophia Ayyappan and Ms. Kalavathy Kripanandam), attended the Bharat Nirman – Public Information Campaign. They spread the news about SMARTER to more than 1000 rural people who visited the stalls in the three days.


We two members of the SMARTER team (Dr. Carmalin and Ms. Sangeeta), with a crew of two photographers visited Andamans during 7-15th Sept 2013 and did a survey about the devastating Tsunami in 2004.


Dr. Carmalin, Ms Sreeja, ME-PhD student ACSIR and a SMARTER volunteer with a crew of other volunteers visited villages in Sundarbans during 25-27 Oct 2013 to understand the disaster preparedness in remote coastal villages, often hit by cyclone and rains.



Workshop “Communication for Emergency Readiness” was conducted on Monday Oct 28, 2013 at CSIR-CGCRI APC Roy Seminar Hall, Kolkata. The workshop was aimed to create awareness in CSIR Labs about emergency preparedness, and smart communication as a part of early warning system during disasters.



Phailin affected Odisha was visited by the project leader and a team. Over the past ten years the Indian Government, aid agencies and communities have worked together to ensure disaster-prone areas have preparedness plans in place. Activities in high-risk areas such as disaster simulations, hazard mapping and improving community resilience, combined with improvements in technology – such as mobile phones and weather tracking systems – has ensured the government and communities are ready when emergency events strike. The response in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh is a testament to this. Communities knew far earlier of the oncoming storm and the authorities were able to provide clear instructions about what to do and where to go.
(photo courtesy : viren)
(photo courtesy : viren)

Effective disaster preparedness is a significant cooperative effort by both communities and government and, is a critically important investment. The benefits have now been seen in India, with communities on the East Indian coastline experiencing their fiercest storm in 14 years, with minimal loss of life.

As the people of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh start the long process of rehabilitation and recovery – we saw that the roads were getting cleared, houses being re-constructed and repaired, crops re-planted and lives rebuilt – the common, global challenge of reducing disaster risks would require many hands in future
“Being prepared” was India’s response to Cyclone Phailin.


A one full day workshop for school and college students was organized on 27th January 2014 at Jaganath Vidyalaya School, Kelambakkam, Chennai. This workshop provided the students with knowledge, skills and confidence, to be prepared for emergency scenarios like fire and earthquake. The main aim was to create awareness about being prepared and to respond to any unanticipated emergencies. More than 100 students from middle to high school along with the teachers participated in the program. There were around 25 college students from various disciplines.


We wish to empower individuals and communities to exercise disaster preparedness thereby creating a more engaged, prepared, and resilient society for tomorrow.

As a part of this initiative, I would like to specialize in the area of Hazard, Risk and Resilience in the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) in Durham University

Why Durham ?
It is one among the world top 100 universities.
It is one of the first universities to open in England for more than 600 years and has a claim towards being the third oldest university in England
The University owns and manages the World Heritage Site in partnership with Durham Cathedral. The University's ownership of the World Heritage Site includes Durham Castle, Palace Green, and the surrounding buildings including the historic Cosin's library.

Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience at Durham University looks to support world-leading research and knowledge exchange in hazard, risk and resilience by bringing together academics, practitioners, policy makers and local communities.

Why Hazard, Risk and Resilience?
Disasters is one problem which can affect the rich, the poor, the black, the white, the meek, the strong everyone. We have no control over those unfortunate events or the fury of nature. This needs a holistic approach and understanding to deal with disasters. Being prepared is the only way to deal with disasters
I have a doctoral degree in, Chemistry. Now that was Science and my interest is now in Social Sciences. I wish to now study about disasters and preparedness, where I can meet, talk, interact with people. I wish to work with the people…

This post is written for Indiblogger for knowledge is great contest



2 comments:

jude said...

gorgeous article about the tamil peoples. Many tamil mobile apps are used to get these kinds of articles via mobile phones.

ashok said...

cheers! that great...