The University of the South Pacific’s IT services and courses on Disaster Risk Management (DRM) could be optimised to address the challenges faced by our member countries in the area of disaster and risk management, says USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Special Duties Dr. Esther Williams.
She made the comments at the opening of the Focus Group Meeting on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre at USP’s Laucala campus on May 12.
In terms of the role of USP’s Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, Dr. Williams said it represented a major regional resource providing huge capacity, major networking and significant linkages with business and other institutions.
With regard to the teaching of Disaster Risk Management (DRM), Dr. Williams said since 2011, USP has begun offering a post-graduate course on DRM.
She said the course covers many aspects of DRM, from the definition of hazards and their impacts to the actions to be conducted under the different phases of the DRM cycle, the global and regional policy framework for DRM and the linkages between DRM and climate change.
Dr Williams said the CROP ICT Working Group under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor and President assumes the role of collating the inputs of CROP agencies and invited organisations to assist CROP in its advisory role to Pacific Island Forum member countries, for new opportunities and in addressing their challenges and issues by using ICT.
She explained that the CROP ICT Working Group aims to become one of the effective forums for discussing and consulting on regional ICT issues including disaster in the region and where CROP agencies, international agencies and other development partners can also work together and pool resources to implement regional priorities in the ICT sector.
“The USPNet, an ICT pioneer in the Pacific is enhanced with additional Ku-band satellite system enabling the network to operate with smaller parabola antenna. This system could be utilised as a backbone for disaster management as well as environment monitoring network, and to gain access to the Internet with minimum additional investment,” she noted.
She said USP is open to making available its USPNet to perform important regional functions, such as knowledge network, disaster management and for the dissemination of best practice and expertise.
“USPNet could be made available as possible backbone of a disaster management network,” she added.