Chile leads development of new disaster relief technologies
A combination of startups, international partnerships, and homegrown engineers are helping Chile design innovative earthquake and tsunami response systems.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
The technology that left Santiago’s Titanium tower undamaged during an 8.8 magnitude earthquake has been exported abroad to Mexico. Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr.
Chile has long held a commitment to investing in the preparation for and response to natural disasters. Chilean company SIRVE’s seismic response technologies are one example of this - the 2010 earthquake that shook the country damaged not one building that had been constructed using the company’s technology .
This includes Santiago’s 634ft Titanium tower, currently Chile’s largest building, whose impermanence to the quake stood as a testament to the country’s engineers.
Sirve’s president, Juan Carlos de la Llera, has said that the company and the government are now collaborating to ensure that low-income housing in Chile will also incorporate Sirve’s life saving technology.
Further safety developments have been put into motion this year in the form of early alert systems for disasters. In 2011, Israeli company eVigilo formed a partnership with the Chilean Sub-Secretary of Telecommunications to deliver a national earthquake and tsunami cellular warning system based on cell broadcast technology. When fully functional, people across the country will be able to receive both early warnings and information after earthquakes, directly to their cell phones, regardless of how busy their cell phone networks are.
"This is a very important step to meet one of the commitments of the President (Sebastián Piñera) for emergency situations: to provide a mechanism for timely information that will help save lives before a natural disaster," said Minister of Interior and Public Security, Rodrigo Hinzpeter.
Smartphone apps that use Google Maps and aggregated Twitter information are also helping inform and warn the Chilean public about natural disasters.
In addition to these digital technologies, new hands-on innovations are also breaking ground in Chile. Enabled through seed capital from Start-Up Chile, Tubing Operations for Humanitarian Logistics (TOHL) has created an unprecedented and ingeniously simple semi-permanent pipeline system that is able to get water to stricken areas at record speeds.
With government support and domestic talent collaborating with international ingenuity, Chile has never been more prepared.