Let’s stop disasters happening – a great example!

December 13th, 2013

Yesterday I posted a blog on disaster risk reduction. Today I read this great example from our work in Peru.

Protecting Zurite from dangerous landslides

A couple of years ago, the main square of the town of Zurite and many buildings in the town were covered by a deep layer of mud and rocks as a result of a landslide. Part of a hill slipped into a river, blocking it. The river then rose up behind the landslide until it burst through, carrying the mud and rock down into the town in a hugely destructive wave. More than 500 houses were badly damaged but thankfully as the landslide happened in daylight it was noticed and everyone was evacuated.

The hill where the landslide started is still unstable and could slip again, repeating the disaster. And if it happened at night, people could be at risk.

zurite-ews-diagramPractical Action, working together with a local university, has developed a remote monitoring system that allows the Town Council to get an automated warning via mobile phone of any further movement in the landslide area.

We made our own electronic instruments from locally available components – an accelerometer (that measures horizontal movement), a vernier caliper (that measures the width of the cracks in the soil at the top of the landslide) and a gyroscope (that measures any rotational movement that might happen as the land begins to slip). All of these have been placed on the landslide area and transmit signals back to the Town Hall triggering automatic alarms if any movement is detected.

As well as this we have a video camera permanently pointed at a target placed on the landslide, with a live transmission of the picture to the Town Hall offices. We have developed our own image processing software that can use the video picture to detect any movement of the target and, again, send an automatic alarm by mobile phone to Council officials.

Simple technology protecting people from landslides!



Read yesterday’s blog,  “Let’s stop disasters happening” …

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