‘Maximize use of data and digital technology in disaster mitigation’
Kathmandu. Experts say that special attention should be paid to the use of digital technology to reduce disasters. Stakeholders say that the government has been working to create alerts and make necessary plans through disaster portals but it has not been effective at the local level.
Speaking at a digital dialogue on ‘The Digitization of Disaster Risk Management in Nepal’ on Saturday, the experts said that along with digital technology, special attention should be paid to data management, data analysis, forecast and alert systems.
Chief Executive of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA), Anil Pokharel, said that the authority was actively involved in risk reduction and management and was working with various national and international agencies to use new technologies.
Despite the challenge of disaster management, Pokharel said that the recent development of Disaster Portal as a national integrated system has enabled the public to be informed, provided immediate relief and assistance. He said that he was now working towards policy, structural and technical reforms to make it an ‘e-village’ so that everyone could coordinate and cooperate.
Stating that they are using various high-capacity drones to get information about the situation and are working on immediate rescue, he informed that the study is being done with the help of satellites and cloud cover. Pokharel said more new technologies were needed for disaster management and that studies were being done for that.
Former Minister of Science and Technology Ganesh Shah complained that Nepal is in crisis now and no matter how much he talks about digital transformation, we have not paid attention to the use of new technology to avoid disasters and reduce losses. He stressed on the need for collective efforts and special priority for the government.
Mayor of Melamchi Municipality Dambar Bahadur Aryal said that the management of flood damage in Melamchi has been facilitated due to phone and social media. He informed that two sirens have been connected in Melamchi and work is underway to get the message from it quickly. Apart from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Nepal Army, Aryal complained that there was no support from other concerned agencies as well as the federal and state governments.
Former DIG of Nepal Police And former Director of Communications, Dr. Rajib Subba said that a 10-year plan should be made to prioritize technology. Complaining that the physical structure of Nepal as well as the structure of the government is lagging behind, Subba said that the government has failed in coordination and implementation. Shubba argued that disaster damage could be minimized only if the highest use of emerging technology was made by changing the structure from policy reform.
“Risk is not linear but response is linear,” he said.
Manita Timalsina, Executive Director of Himalaya Conservation Group Nepal, said that the forecast of the Department of Water and Meteorology is a gift of improved technology and many things can be done in response using digital technology.
He complained that the government was lagging behind in data sharing and not working in an integrated manner. It was Timalsina. Pointing out that effective plans are not a priority of the government and are limited to paper despite various studies, she said it is important to convey the message and accurate data to the local community as well as make proper use of technology.
Department of Environmental Sciences, Tri. Amrit Sharma, an assistant professor at B.Sc., said that the government has not been able to focus on data management and use as the foundation is based on data.
“We need to collect data, visualize and use it at the right time,” Sharma said. “We need to look at the situation where we can analyze data and forecast the weather using a supercomputer.” Sharma said that the necessary emerging technologies should be integrated in the development of technology suitable for Nepal.
Pointing out that the concerned bodies should pay attention to issues like live earthquake updates, community awareness programs, use of digital technology in all disaster cycles, accurate data of relief distribution, he stressed on the need to invest in data, focus on data science and make decision making system effective.
Pradip Khatiwada, technician of the Disaster Portal run by NEA, informed about the work being done by NEA through the Disaster Portal. Stating that the system is operating in accordance with international standards, he said that data policy making, planning and implementation are important and for this, NEA has paid attention to data management and use.
The disaster portal has six different modules and sections. The disaster portal has flood, landslide and earthquake alerts and everyone can easily get all the information including real time updates from it, said Khatiwada.
The event was attended by many domain champions. Dr. of NCMIM. Min Bahadur Poudel said that the working style of the government was traditional and needed to be greatly improved. Nashtaka Science Technology Director Dr. Rabindra Dhakal informed about the alert systems being developed through Nasht. Ram Prasad Rimal of Ram Laxman Innovation spoke about the siren system in Melamchi and its importance. Other participants and experts shared their views on reforms to be made by the government, NEA and local bodies. Experts emphasized the need to improve government policies and technology. Experts have suggested the central government to work in coordination with every local body as information is not effectively available to the local level and the general public.