Recently we faced flash floods that destroyed a lot of property when the water rose as high as the roof of a house. This flood was very unexpected because it rained heavily in one day only, and it is equivalent to the amount of rain per month.

Unfortunately, many were trapped because they did not have time to run. Many fled to the roofs and spent the night without any help.

Many were traumatized when the flood water destroyed items in their homes. There were also the elderly, children, and pregnant women who had to save themselves on the house’s roof.

Panic and Chaos

Unfortunately, NADMA (National Disaster Management Agency) is not functioning in this chaotic situation, and many government agencies seem to be slow in their rescue efforts. NGOs were quicker to provide rescue assistance, food, clothing, and help clean houses after the floods receded.

Members of the Malaysian Armed Forces, on the other hand, had to act alone when they were not willing to wait for further instructions from the slow NADMA.

These slow warnings and rescue efforts have caused many Malaysians to point fingers at the government for failing to act quickly.

As we promote the benefits and impact of IR 4.0, why is the Flood Forecasting and Warning System (FFWS) not working well? Isn’t this flood in Malaysia happening every year? There are many projects to deal with floods that have been spent either by the government or the University? Where is the output of this R&D?

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Where Is Our Flood Forecasting and Warning System?

What is this Flood Forecasting and Warning System (FFWS) readiness level? If we look at the terms Industrial Revolution from 1.0 to 4.0, we can define the system as follows:

FFWS IR 1.0 – When we make a forecast by just looking at the rain that is falling or seeing the river water rising rapidly. Warnings were made by the way rescuers came to each house.

FFWS IR 2.0 – Rainfall forecast when viewing images from satellites and wind and storm directions. Rain warnings can be given via TV or Radio.

FFWS IR 3.0 – Rainfall forecast when computer software can provide a forecast for 1 to 2 weeks. The Internet is used to channel information to the public.

FFWS 4.0 – Rainfall and flood forecasts can be done when getting a lot of data from sensors that measure rainfall distribution and river water height. Astronomical data is also used to analyze the tidal impact of seawater when it rains heavily. A warning system using a siren or an SMS message can be sent to residents in the affected area. Drones can be used in rescue efforts by looking at trapped victims on the roof.

If our FFWS has reached IR 4.0, why do we still fail when faced with such a situation?

What’s Lacking?

Sometimes we can’t blame technology because the success of Digital Transformation depends on three factors, namely People, Process and Technology. These three must go hand in hand.

During the last floods, we may see that the technology is still not satisfactory. The warning came slowly. The most significant problem is the still chaotic and slow rescue process. This may be due to the person in charge failing to perform the task properly. The rescue process may be getting better and established because Malaysia has experienced floods every year. The weakest link in the current flood scenario seems to point mainly to “people,” Hopefully, we can resolve this issue as fast as possible to avoid recurring disasters.

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