Blindsided by a second deadly tsunami less than 19 months after the disastrous 2004 event, Indonesia is speeding up installation of a $20-million tsunami early-warning system off the coast of Java and along the archipelago. The Indonesian government intends to seek bids for the proposed early-warning system in the next several months, with a goal of completing installation by 2007.

The system will extend the newly completed Indonesian National Earthquake and Tsunami Early-Warning System, built by the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. UNESCO-IOC collaborated and partnered with a large number of other international humanitarian organizations to install 25 new seismographic stations in the Indian Ocean basin.

Extension of this system will create an end-to-end tsunami-warning system for the entire Indian Ocean. The new Indonesian system will comprise six regional communication centers, including one each in Sumatra and Java. They will monitor, evaluate and disseminate potentially tsunami-creating earthquake information from seismometers and tidal stations throughout the country, including small fishing harbors and water-level sensors installed along the shoreline.

Real-time communication tools such as SMS (Short Message Service) will help improve evacuation. “The system will also include a volunteer network that uses private in-home Internet connections to collect [real-time] information from regional pressure sensors and relay it to the regional communication centers,” says Jerard Fryer, geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Ewa Beach, Hawaii.