January 19, 2021

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Earthquake monitoring systems in Indonesia get tech boost

Significant strides in digital technology have been taken in governance and improvement of basic public services. Digital solutions platforms and tools, in light of the plethora of crises in 2020, have been a huge boon to disaster preparedness initiatives and critical event management. 

As one of the countries across the world which records the most number of earthquakes, the Indonesian government is preparing better for the occurrence of this calamity by innovating. According to a statement, the state’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) announced that it is enhancing its data gathering systems to obtain more accurate data and parameters on earthquakes. 

To do this, the agency, in collaboration with state-owned firm PT Len Industri, is installing more earthquake monitoring systems across Indonesia under its early warning programme called the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System or the InaTEWS. 

The system is an intricate web that combines seismic information, GPS and Buoy Data, as well as Tide Gauge Data. Of this information, seismic data forms an integral part of the InaTEWS system as it can detect potential tsunamis in 4 to 5 minutes after the onslaught of an earthquake. 

Improving the InaTEWS programme builds on earlier initiatives implemented in 2019 when the BMKG installed 194 monitoring stations across the country. By the end of 2020, it reinstalled 39 stations of its regional station under the Mini Regional Installation Project. These additions bring the total number of seismograph applications to 411 units. 

The BMKG considers the completion of its regional station as last year’s milestone as it was done according to timelines and as the station is now fully operational despite difficulties due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Randy Dwi Rahardian, Head of PT Len Industri’s Mini Regional Installation Project, explained that some of the issues they hurdled during the installation phase include limited transportation and distribution options. some installation sites are geographically isolated and difficult to reach, particularly those in Sulawesi and Maluku and other sites in Central and Eastern Indonesia. Availability of transportation modes for distribution of goods has also been limited due to restrictions on ship departure schedules and the number of ships. The current pandemic situation has had a huge impact on project implementation. But with strong project planning and monitoring, he is confident that the nation can get through it well. 

The BMKG stated that as more installation sites are completed, seismic sensors will be able to predict with more accuracy the speed and other details of earthquakes and tsunamis. To make the programme more reliable, there is now a posthole seismometer system in place where a seismometer, the device that can detect and respond to ground motions produced during earthquakes, is inserted underground. This can help reduce what the agency called environmental noise. As a result, there is an improvement in data quality. 

Putting up more early-warning sensors and earthquake infrastructure 

In the same statement, the state-owned firm said that it is looking at improving its services to be able to add to early warning devices that the country can use. As a maintenance unit of the InaTEWS, it is now improving the programme by ensuring the integrity and availability of earthquake data, with the end goal of keeping data availability above 90%. This can be done by ensuring the proper placement of seismometers and even maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels of the seismometers. 

The firm added that while most products and tech knowledge used in earthquake detection come from other countries, it is confident that there will be a transfer of technology initiative that can be implemented by Indonesia in the future. 

This statement comes on the heels of earlier efforts made by other state-owned companies to integrate technology into their operations. As previously cited by OpenGov Asia, government-owned enterprises are tapping on innovative systems like the Enterprise Resource Planning programme to build more sustainable ecosystems and streamline their services.