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Best in Asia hazard warning system now in place in Catanduanes

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Mar 29 – A multi-hazard warning system, described as “the best there is in Asia,” is now in place and working in this calamity-prone island province to detect imminent disastrous events and sound alarms calling for emergency responds.

Called the I-Force Early Warning System, the equipments set up recently on the roof deck of the provincial capitol here was realized through a donation made by the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the lead agency of the United Nations (UN) for information and communication technology issues.

ITU also serves as the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services.

The donation was facilitated by Cesar Sarmiento, a native of the province, during his incumbency as assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), provincial Gov. Joseph Cua said on Monday.

The process of the donation started in April 2008 when Sarmiento invited ITU telecommunications expert Dr. Cosmaz Zavazava to assess the need of the province for a modern early warning system that would enhance its disaster preparedness efforts being an island at the Pacific Ocean that is frequently hit by strong typhoons.

Cua said that Zavazava was convinced of the necessity for the instrument and apart from the I-Force Early Warning System, he also pledged to provide the province with mobile satellite telecommunications equipment for use in disaster preparedness and response during the typhoon season.

The installation and testing of the I-Force, which is now part of the operations of the Provincial Disaster Management Office (PDMO), was supervised by Dr. Eucente Frias of the Eufrix Eastern Enterprises, its supplier, the governor said.

Sarmiento said that "foremost, we look after the protection of our people especially in times of impending calamities. Forewarned is forearmed. This multi-hazard warning system would enable us to act appropriately with more than enough time to spare."

This disc-shaped device pitched to high decibel is considered as the best warning device in Asia at present and the province is fortunate to be its only recipient in the Philippines, he said.

The I-Force that is worth US$ 100,000 was designed and manufactured by the American Signal Corp., the world’s leading manufacturer of warning systems.

The total cost for the project reached about P7 million as back-to-back repeaters have also been installed at strategic areas to enable the PDMO to connect via radio transceivers to the entire 11 towns in the province and relay warnings.

The system is equipped with outdoor warning sirens that are still considered the most effective method to warn the communities on approaching calamities at large in the shortest amount of time, according to Cua.

During severe weather conditions and other emergencies such as a hazardous chemical spill which requires residents to evacuate their homes, the sirens activated by radio control issue the warning, he said.

With a press of a button following a signal coming from the disaster detector at the capitol roof deck, radio transmissions are picked up by the receivers at the sirens, which decode the paging signals to determine what to do. A particular signal may instruct the sirens to give a weather warning call, while still another may cause the sirens to stop their sounding, Cua said.

I-Force features an omni-directional 360° voice/tone siren with military-specs speech intelligibility and has pre-recorded and live voice broadcasting capability. It has 10 standard and six custom tone signals and can be tested silently.

The fiberglass siren horns can endure severe weather conditions and are maintenance-free, as it would not require painting or catch rust. The electronic controls have self-contained, regulated battery charging system that assures full siren operation during power outages.

One model assures a sound pressure level of 70 decibels for approximately 1 radial mile or 1.6 kilometers, the governor said.(PNA)

RMA/LQ/DOC/cbd

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