I-Force Early Warning System

“The best there is in Asia”: Multi-Hazard Warning System Installed at Provincial Capitol

A multi-hazard warning system capable is issuing loud siren warnings against specific types of emergencies and hazards is now installed at the roof deck of the provincial capitol, courtesy of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

catanduanes, province
Described by the installation engineers as the best there is in Asia, the I-Force Early Warning System was turned over to the provincial government last March 8 in a brief ceremony attended by Governor Joseph C. Cua and former DOTC Assistant Secretary Cesar V. Sarmiento, who was instrumental in bringing the system to Catanduanes. Also present were DOTC’s Gina Rodriguez, Dr. Eucente Frias of Eufrix Eastern Enterprises which installed and tested the system, and Rudy Rojas, designate-head of the Provincial Disaster Management Office.

The early warning project is a project of the Department of Transportation in partnership with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) of the United Nations with headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland.

It may be recalled that in April 2008, Assec. Sarmiento accompanied to Catanduanes a team from ITU headed by Dr. Cosmaz Zavazava to assess the needs requirement of a warning system in the province which would enhance disaster preparedness and greatly facilitate information dissemination in times of calamities.

During that meeting with Gov. Cua and the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, Dr. Zavazava committed, among other assistance, to send mobile satellite telecommunications equipment to Catanduanes for use in disaster preparedness and response during the typhoon season.

Fully aware that Catanduanes is an island province lying in the Pacific Ocean and frequently visited by typhoons, Sarmiento convinced then DOTC Secretary and now Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza and the ITU team that the early warning system would best be set up in Catanduanes as it is the province which needs it most.

"Foremost, we have to 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," Sarmiento stressed. "This disc-shaped device pitched to high decibel is considered as the best alarming device in Asia at present and our province is fortunate to be the only recipient in the Philippines," He added.

catanduaes, province The $100,000.00 I-Force Early Warning System was designed and manufactured by the American Signal Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of warning systems. Sources say the total cost for the project, however, has reached almost P7 million as back-to-back repeaters have also been installed at strategic areas to enable the PDCC to connect via radio transceivers to the rest of the 11 towns in the province.

Outdoor Warning Sirens, which are still the most effective method to warn the population at large in the shortest amount of time, are primarily used to warn communities of severe weather conditions and for other emergencies such as a hazardous chemical spill which requires residents to evacuate their homes.

Under the system installed at the capitol, the siren would be activated by radio control, with the operator pressing a button to transmit a radio signal. The signals are picked up by the receivers at the sirens, which decode the paging signals to determine what they are 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.

The I-Force Early Warning System 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 get rusty. The electronic controls have a 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. 

According to Bob Monterola of the PDMO, the siren could be heard as far as Calatagan Tibang and Pajo in Virac and Cabugao in Bato. The original site of the warning system was supposed to be the TV transmission tower at the PIA compound in San Isidro Village but a failure of coordination with the Catanduanes State Colleges, which now has responsibility over the compound, prompted its relocation to the capitol building. The warning system, however, is not yet fully operational as it is awaiting the arrival of a vital computer component and the finalization of the signal broadcast protocol by the PDMO.

Source: Catanduanes Tribune - 19 March 2010

RELATED LINKS:
  • ITU Council 2009: Interview with Mr. Rodolfo Salalima - An interview with Mr. Rodolfo Salalima, Senior Vice President for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs of Globe Telecom at the 2009 Session of ITU Council, talks about the construction of a typhoon early warning system pilot project in Catanduanes.