Monday, December 27, 2004


Mark Kleiman has a great idea

As has been reported, countries facing the Indian Ocean do not have a tsunami warning network in place like those on the Pacific Ocean.

So Mark comes up with an idea that as great as it is simple:

But if you're an American seismologist and your problem is to get a tsunami warning to folks in Sri Lanka, India, and Burma within a couple of hours, surely calling people in those countries and hoping that the governments will be able to improvise a warning system must be the wrong way to go.

Why not call CNN, the Associated Press, and Reuters? They're in the business of putting out information, and they put it out in a way that gets directly to senior public officials as well as to lots of ordinary folks who might live on, or have friends or relatives on, the relevant coastlines.

I promise you, a phone call from the International Tsunami Information Center saying "There's just been a Richter 9.0 quake in Sumatra and a big tsunami will hit the following places at the following times" will receive the undivided attention of any newsdesk in the world.

If you want to put a system in place, put it in place with the news organizations, so you have the direct-line phone numbers of the assignment desks and can send out an authenticated e-mail showing it's not a hoax. And the media process builds in redundancy; if CNN or AP or Reuters carries a big, breaking story, the others will have it within minutes.

As great as it is simple.

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