MedDay has breakthrough solution for tsunami warning system based on disease detection and management system

Stockholm 24 January 2005The Swedish health services company MedDay has a warning system innovation to detect and inform people about catastrophes like the tsunami wave in South-East Asia on December 26th, 2004. For several years, MedDay has developed a cell phone service to detect and restrict epidemics of various kinds, e.g. SARS and bird flu. The very same system can also be modified to send warning messages of possible catastrophes around the world.

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MedDay has an application called RegPoint for managing treatment of chronic diseases and detecting and verifying epidemics/pandemics. The application was developed in order for patients to be able to send updated health profiles to their doctors several times a day via cell phones. To expand the range of usage of such an application, MedDay is going to collaborate with the seismology experts of the Uppsala University to provide a tsunami and earthquake warning system.

The quake on December 26th, 2004 took place at 6:58 AM local time. After approximately 90 minutes, the first waves reached Thailand. Sri Lanka was hit one hour later. The amount of tsunami victims rose very high because there were no proper warning systems in those areas. Many seismological measurement systems had detected the earthquake, but no information was sent in time.

"Our systems registered the earthquake eleven minutes after it occurred, almost an hour before the first warning reached the authorities in the affected areas", stated Reynir Bodvarsson, leader of the Swedish national seismological network at the University of Uppsala. Automation can become a key solution. If RegPoint had been connected with the system at Uppsala, thousands of people could have been able to get the warning on their cell phones shortly after the earthquake was detected.

MedDay is going to develop a mobile warning system with seismology experts from the University of Uppsala. The complete system will require a registration, but after that, if a serious earthquake should occur, a message will be sent from Uppsala through GPRS, CMDA or 3G networks directly to all RegPoint users in the affected area. MedDay uses a de facto standard called Daily Medical Support (DMS) for the message delivery. Motorola has been involved in the standard development.

It is time to update the tsunami and earthquake warning systems around the world. "The American warning system, which is in use today, was created in 1948, long before cell phones were invented", stated Sophia Salenius, President and CEO of MedDay. "The American system is very reliable, but it takes time to inform people who are not in reach of alarms or local radios. The catastrophe in South-East Asia showed us that today information should spread among people without the delay that cost so many lives."

Today there are Tsunami Warning Centers especially around Japan and the American seaboard. The systems are a combination of seismographs and measure buoys. When the seismograph registers a strong earthquake on the seabed, a message is sent to the authorities that are responsible for the sea buoys. If the buoys register movement that could interpret a tsunami, a warning will be sent to the rescue service on each threatened seaboard. Finally, a warning goes out to the public. This is how the system, which is in use today, works, e.g. Pacific Tsunami Warning System, PTWS.

American systems have severe disadvantages. They are very expensive to create. It also takes a minimum of two years to install the system. Organisations must be built in the area, ready to respond and take responsibility. American systems have been working for several years and since a great deal of facts is gathered, the risk of false alarm is rather small. But if the information does not reach the affected area quickly enough, the system is not useful.

The new Swedish system is inexpensive, and it takes only four to five weeks to install. The warning comes early and consequently the public is reached faster. Eleven minutes after the quake on December 26th, 2004 Uppsala could have issued a warning if they had twenty four-seven surveillance and access to the RegPoint solution. One minute later everybody in the area could have received a warning on their cell phones. The possibility of a false alarm exists, since no measure buoys are used, but one can not be too alert in an earthquake risk zone.

More news about MedDay is available in the VMW January 2005 article MedDay's revolutionary communication standard to impact daily routines in health care.


Leslie Versweyveld

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