New App from Peruvian Navy Aims to Keep Civilians Safe During Tsunamis
By Dialogo March 10, 2016
The Peruvian Navy has developed a new technological tool to help civilians take preventive measures to protect themselves against tsunamis. Through the "Cambiemos Las Cifras" (Let’s Change the figures) campaign, which was launched by the Navy’s Hydrography and Navigation Bureau (DHN) last month, civilians can download an app that provides evacuation routes and the location of shelters before a tsunami hits land.
“The campaign's goal is to avoid people becoming victims due to a possible occurrence of this natural phenomenon,” explained Navy Commander Javier Fernández Segura, the chief of the Oceanography Department, in an interview with Diálogo.
“The idea is to take preventive measures instead of corrective ones. The campaign is intended to sensitize the Peruvian people to the issue and raise their awareness about the preventive measures they should be taking when faced with this natural phenomenon. Because when a tsunami happens, people won’t be able to access information quickly.”
The Navy, which is responsible for issuing tsunami alerts and warnings, is supporting a public information campaign to educate civilians about the new technology and how it can help keep them safe. Rear Admiral Rodolfo Sablich Luna Victoria, DHN's director, gave a presentation on the cellphone app at the National Tsunami Warning Center.
The Navy has a web page where civilians can enter their information and download a free app called MGP Tsunamis to their cellphones. “The Navy has invested a lot of time and effort in the Cambiemos Las Cifras campaign to safeguard the lives of the Peruvian people," Cmdr. Fernández stated, adding that Naval service members are continually “conducting prevention efforts by giving educational lectures to the coastal populations through harbor masters, especially to persons who work in fishing, to make them aware that it isn’t only their lives that will be in danger, but those of their families too.”
Celebrities from Peru's arts and TV sector, including Fernando Armas, Oscar Lopez Arias, Augusto Alvarez Rodrich and Gladis Rengifo, are participating in Cambiemos Las Cifras .
They support the Navy’s efforts through public service announcements about information measures civilians can take to remain safe during a tsunami warning or alert.
Civilians can use the GPS on their cell phones to see images of evacuation routes and shelters. Preparation is crucial because tsunamis occur regularly in Peru, where they have killed thousands of people and laid waste to property.
In June 2001, an 8.4-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed at least 20 people in the Camaná-Chala region. The tsunami and the tremblor destroyed more than 17,500 homes. In October 1746, a tsunami battered the Peruvian capital of Lima, where it hit the port of Callao the hardest, killing all but 200 of the town's 5,000 residents.
For years, the DHN has also been utilizing Tsunami Flood Maps ,
which contain topographical information of some of Peru's coastal areas that illustrate how far inland tsunami waves could penetrate during major earthquakes. The Navy expects to develop about six of these maps this year after drafting 90 since the process began more than 15 years ago, Rear Adm. Sablich told TV Peru
on January 23rd.
“It is difficult to map the over 3,000 kilometers of coastline,” Cmdr. Fernández added. “[The maps help] orderly urban growth and follow low-lying coastal zone that could experience floods due to this phenomenon.”
On February 22nd, the Navy started developing a flood map for the region of Lurín. The effort will include a sea phase, during which service members will perform a bathymetric survey of the neighboring waters, as well as a ground phase that will incorporate a tacheometric survey of the area, the DHN reported.
In addition to these tools, the Navy has 20 monitoring stations located at sea level throughout the country. These stations monitor the variability of sea levels, measure sea water, air temperature, oxygen levels, salinity and relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, and direction. The information is transmitted in real-time to the Peruvian Navy’s National Tsunami Warning Center (CNAT).
The CNAT, with headquaters in Callao, is operated by 12, highly-trained Naval service members, runs 24 hours a day, and is linked to numerous national and international institutions so it can take appropriate preventive measures. It continually conducts exercises to test communications and readiness among the members of the National Population Warning System to improve the operational effectiveness of actions and responses should tsunamis be detected, regardless of their distance from Peru, according to the DHN.
If the CNAT becomes inoperable, the Navy has an alternate center in Callao that is equipped with the same primary communication and monitoring systems as the main center. The Navy's efforts to provide warnings about tsunamis bring the institution closer to civilians.
“This is very good: people identify the Peruvian Navy as the institution that provides them with information that could save their lives, which builds ties between the Navy and the people,” Cmdr. Fernández said. “We hope that the populace will gradually become aware of how important it is for them to stay informed so they are not caught unawares. The work is very difficult, but it is not impossible.”
Good and thank you for making us better informed..