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Identifying buildings for disaster response

Wednesday 1 February 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National, Outer Islands


Identifying buildings for disaster response
Director of EMCI, John Strickland and the PCRAFI surveyors team. 23013106

Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) surveying team are conducting an exposure survey on all existing buildings including businesses and homes in Rarotonga, and later in Aitutaki.

Some members of the public are refusing the surveyors admittance in to their residential homes to have photographs taken of their properties - which will be respected.

EMCI Geoportal Coordinator, Stephano Rampling-Tou says the survey is to identify all the buildings with GPS coordinates and collect details on the houses that have water tanks, electricity and communications.

“The awareness has gone out and most people are pretty acceptable of the survey, but we have had a few complaints.

“This survey plays a significant role in the future planning in case of a disaster,” said Rampling-Tou.

“We are not collecting any personal information.”

When homes are not identified and mapped and when the time comes for a humanitarian response, your home your house won’t be seen on that data base, he added.

The surveyors are also collecting images of all households (from outside), and with the GPS coordinates, in the future all the emergency services can use that data to apply to their integrated systems, said Rampling Tou, “it’s about safety for all.”

The surveyors are conducting the survey with community Puna members and are clearly identified with orange hi viz vests and official name tags

They all have clear instructions to only collect necessary information according to the survey, no conversations with owners of the buildings or homes are needed.

The survey started in January from Tupapa, this week they have reached Murienua in Arorangi.

The Cook Islands is one of the five Pacific Island Countries (PICs) taking part in a regional disaster risk-focused project - the Capacity Building on the Hazard and Exposure Database for Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment Financing Initiative (PCRAFI), which aims to provide the PICs with disaster risk modelling and assessment tools.

EMCI director John Strickland says the aim of this PCRAFI II is to build the capacity of country governments to collect and update on exposure data for the Cook Islands at the national and regional level.

The data collected will assist EMCI and Government in making risk-informed decisions for the development and growth of Cook Islands and inform disaster risk reduction and disaster response activities in the country.

“Having a baseline data of what we have on the island is critical to the success of our planning and response to any national event,” said Strickland.