How the world protects itself from natural disasters
Extreme natural phenomena have always threatened humanity. Today, despite having numerous ways to respond to them, the frequency of disasters is dramatically increasing due to climate change. The number of recorded natural disasters has gone up by about a third since the 1990s. In 2019, the world was affected by 361 catastrophic events, which means there was almost one life-threatening disaster per day.
These phenomena include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, tropical storms, floods, landslides, fires, and extreme weather events. Many of them cannot be prevented (such as earthquakes), but it is possible to get prepared. What do the data on natural disasters say, and how can we best protect ourselves from such catastrophes?
More lives saved
Drawing on the data on the world’s populations, it can be expected that the number of victims over time could grow proportionally to the growing number of disasters; especially if we take into account the increase in population. However, the opposite is true. The number of deaths caused by natural disasters stabilised at around 60,000 per year sometime in the 1980s (by comparison, it was about 500,000 in the 1930s).
Although there are still many victims, prevention has brought a noticeable effect. There are several reasons why more lives can be saved today:
- More modern forecasting technologies: seismographs, weather stations and other sensors able to react to an emergency sooner
- Advanced infrastructure: safer construction planning methods, better materials
- Better preparedness of emergency and rescue services: better organisation of the population in emergencies and better training of emergency and rescue services
- Warning and notifications systems: early and reliable warning and notification using modern sirens and other advanced technologies
Unlike in the past, when droughts and floods used to be among the most devastating types of disasters, currently, it is earthquakes that most endanger the world. In general, the economically disadvantaged people in locations with insufficient infrastructure are held to be most at risk.
Functions and components of warning systems
The architecture of a warning system is quite simple. There are four interconnected components, as follows:
- Knowledge of risk
- Technical monitoring and warning equipment
- Warning information dissemination
- Preparedness for reaction and evacuation
At the core of the system are technologies like various monitoring stations, mobile and satellite technologies on the one hand, and sirens and other warning devices on the other hand.
Risks vary from place to place; while earthquakes may be the greatest threat in some areas, tropical storms, or forest fires in other. Telegrafia’s offer includes all kinds of electronic sirens (for example, stationary and mobile sirens), PA systems, monitoring stations, as well as warning software that allows the coordination of these technologies.
There are several cases in which countries have been able to use warning systems to improve the security of their citizens. For illustration, Cuba has managed to set up a tropical storm prevention system, with only seven casualties in five floods. Bangladesh, also affected by extreme weather conditions, has an efficient 48-hour warning system. Even though Japan and the Pacific islands claimed some 15,000 victims in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami after the testing of their new warning systems, still, the incomparable number of about 200,000 people died in a comparable disaster in Thailand in 2004. It is always essential to know a specific location and the critical threats there.
Preparing for climate change
The quality of warning sirens and technologies has reached a high level; they are useful and highly reliable. However, with the changing climate, not only is it necessary to account for all kinds of risk but also to build systems effective in all aspects. Technology alone cannot be enough. It is required to examine (evolving) site-specific threats and be prepared for everything. Statistics and success stories from many parts of the world have proven that humanity is on the right track in the utilisation of warning systems.
The article was written by
Zuzana works at Telegrafia at the marketing department. Her main responsibility is to keep an eye on Google Ads and Facebook. Online marketing is changing all the time, giving her the chance to expand her knowledge constantly and put it into real practice. After work, she relaxes best by going to the gym and watching good films.