Landslides are a major problem in the hilly areas of Bangladesh- particularly in Chittagong. This is specially true during the rainy season when rain water seeps into the ground leading to cracks in the foundation which eventually lead to landslides.
To reduce human casualties as well as property damage, the Geological Survey Directorate of Bangladesh (GSB) in collaboration with Geo-Technical Institute of Norway (NGI) has devised a way to detect landslides through a mobile phone.
GSB first took on the project following the death of 127 people after a landslide in Chittagong. In 2010, a device was installed at a strategic location in Chittagong which analyse soil conditions and warn in case of a landslide. Research has shown that 100mm of rainfall within 3 hours, or 200 mm in 24 hours as well as 350 mm of rain within 72 hours can develop landslide conditions.
Rainfall data is stored and updated on the central server automatically. Once the amount of rainfall reaches the red zone, text messages are automatically sent to designated officials in the District Commissioner’s office, local fire stations, Red Crescent, Disaster Management Centres, City Corporations etc. The officials are then responsible for evacuating the local citizens as well as carrying out rescue and repair operations once disaster strikes.
The system has been in place for the past few years and has already successfully averted disaster on a number of occasions. Detecting machines have been installed in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar as well as Teknaf, and there are plans to increase the coverage of the system.