With a series of natural disasters and political crisis that has happened globally during the past 12 months, we are urged to realise the fact that we live in uncertainty. Globalization does not prevent us from the impact of these crises. People’s sentiments have begun to change, from never believing that such catastrophes are real to thinking what they would do if such events happened to them and their families. The frequent occurrence of disasters and crisis is gradually shifting people’s mindset, but no one knows when and where it is going to happen and it is pointless to live in anticipation, fear or panic.
One way to best prepare for unexpected events and to minimize the risk and impact is diversification. Following unexpected events, we believe there is a movement of funds and possibly people. Disasters certainly impact businesses across the board and may prompt investors to diversify to less disaster or crisis prone countries. In terms of people, those fortunate enough to be able to afford multiple homes, may consider purchasing secondary homes overseas which allows them to re-locate in times of a crisis.
Locally, Thailand has had to deal with the political turmoil last year. Since then, many companies have reviewed their risk management plans, insurance and safety policies and IT and data back-up systems. While many businesses have prepared for back-up offices in other locations, many have not yet implemented preventive measures as they may think last year’s event will not happen again. One also needs to consider if the properties are well equipped to deal with a political crisis and protests, natural and manmade disasters from fire to flooding, whether there is an evacuation plan and route in place, are the residents and occupiers well trained to handle such situations, so on and so forth.
In terms of investment considerations, diversification is the key. In the residential market, investing in properties in different locations is one way for investors to diversify their investments to cities which they find relatively safe and possibly suitable for a temporary home if need be or even as part of a long-term relocation plan. The frequency of crisis and disasters that has happened is likely to change people’s mindset from investing only in one key destination, to diversifying into several locations.
By Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, Managing Director of
Bangkok is on average just 40 centimetres higher than the mean sea level. With the seas of the Andaman and the Gulf of Thailand continuing to rise slowly every year, the lower part of Thailand’s capital could well stay under water permanently.
“People in neighbourhoods along the banks of the Chao Phya River may have to get used to wading through water on their streets all the time,” warns Bhichit Rattakul, director of the Asian Disaster Prepared-ness Centre.
“What we need is technology to help us better predict the impact of global warming. We have to get people prepared for the increasingly uncertain future.”
Bhichit spoke on the issue last week at a forum organised by the Society of Environment Journalists.
Recent simulation models developed by foreign experts show almost 55 per cent of Bangkok will be flooded if mean sea levels rise by 50 centimetres and 72 per cent if they rise 100 centimetres.
Asia is forecast to have the greatest number of people affected by rising sea levels, especially those populations living in threatened coastal areas such as China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.
Some cities such as Bangkok are more vulnerable due to subsidence from massive pumping of underground water.
HOW THAILAND’S EARLY WARNING SYSTEM WORKS
Early Warning System Information Network & Data Exchange
The newly-established National Disaster Warning Centre functions as a centralised information centre receiving, monitoring, processing and relaying critical information on impending natural disasters round the clock. Data on the intensity of seismic or wave activity is received and transmitted via the Early Warning System established by the Thailand National Disaster Warning Centre.
To facilitate timely data exchanges and updates, the National Disaster Warning Centre is linked to international information networks in Europe, Asia and the Pacific. These include disaster prevention and mitigation agencies such as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii, the US Geological Survey and the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Thailand’s Early Warning System information network is also linked to the information networks of the Meteorological Department, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Naval Hydrographic Department which provide data on seismic activity. It also taps into the information networks of other state agencies including the Department of Disaster Prevention and Relief, the Department of Fisheries, the Royal Irrigation Department, the Department of Maritime Transport and Commerce, and the Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand (EGAT).
The centre is staffed round-the-clock by a team of experts tasked with monitoring and analysing computer-generated reports. In the event that there is a high probability of a tsunami incident occurring, a warning for high risk areas around Thailand will be issued within 30 minutes. Data will be relayed immediately via satellite.
|Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre receives data transmitted from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii, the US Geological Survey and the Japan Meteorological Agency and other sources round-the-clock.|
|Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre receives notification of seismic or wave activity or an earthquake that might be a potential threat.|
The information received is compiled, computed and analysed within 20 minutes.
Vital data, such as the profile and elevation of the land, ocean depth and other key variables are keyed into a computer-simulated programme. Possible scenarios are generated and analysed. The potential risk to areas around Thailand is assessed.
|In the event of impending danger such as the advance of destructive waves or floodwaters, public warnings are issued.|
Once a warning has been issued by the National Disaster Warning Centre, television and radio stations will immediately cease broadcasts of normal programmes and commence their broadcast of the disaster warning.