The German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean (GITEWS) was fully handed over to Indonesia on 29 March 2011. Since then, the responsible system operator responsible has been the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Services (BMKG) in Jakarta. Since going into operation, the warning system has successfully registered thousands of earthquakes and more than ten tsunamis in Indonesia. Earthquake news and tsunami warnings are issued less than five minutes after a quake, followed by updates or an all-clear.
GITEWS has been successfully completed. It issues a warning very quickly and precisely, or signals the all-clear and its enhancement capability for the entire Indian Ocean is also a part of this development work. More than 30 people work at the warning centre in Jakarta in 24/7/365 shifts. The system has been internationally evaluated and recognised as one of the most advanced tsunami warning systems worldwide.
This is the result of major efforts since the disaster of 2004.
GITEWS phase (2005 to 2011)
On 26 December 2004 at 7:58 local time (00:58 universal time UT), the second-strongest earthquake measured to date occurred at the north-western tip of Sumatra, with a fracture length of around 1200 kilometres and a magnitude Mw = 9.3. More than 250 people lost their lives, 5 million people required immediate assistance and 1.8 million were homeless. Indonesia alone suffered 170,000 deaths. Germany was also affected - 537 citizens lost their lives, the highest loss from a single event since the Second World War. The extent of the disaster, the intense devastation of other regions and the associated suffering, particularly in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, eclipsed all previously experienced scales. The main reason for the high number of victims: there was no organisational or structural possibility for early warning in the entire India Ocean.
The international community of states, including Germany, responded with immediate support. With the GITEWS project (German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System, 2005-2011), Germany provided a significant contribution - over and above the immediately aid for flood victims - setting up the heart of an integrated, state-of-the-art, efficient Tsunami early warning system in Indonesia. Through the PROTECTS (Project for Training, Education and Consulting for Tsunami Early Warning Systems, 2011-2014), it was subsequently ensured that the employees of the participating institutions could independently continue operating the early warning system and the diverse technical and organisational components under their own responsibility.
Under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and with the cooperation of international partner institutions from Germany, the United States, China and Japan, a concept was developed for a tsunami early warning system for Indonesia, which presently performs its service as InaTEWS (Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System). On 11 November 2008, InaTEWS was ceremoniously inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The installation phase of InaTEWS as characterised by the development of required hardware and control programs, as well as appropriate strategies and procedures, the development of standards and processes. The Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Service BMKG (Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika), which is responsible for the operation of the early warning system, reached the operational condition step-by-step and via various phases of the system setup by March 2011. During the GITEWS phase (2005 to 2011), a series of German institutions were involved, whose task was the ("upstream") technical setup of the system. The local administration and population were involved step-by-step in pilot regions ("downstream"). After successful practical implementation, this resulted in an end-to-end system.
PROTECTS phase (2011 to 2014)
The operation and maintenance of the system and the implementation of an alarm require a high level of competence and practical experience. This made it necessary to train scientific and technical staff of the BMKG and BIG (Badan Informasi Geospasial) services professionally on site. To achieve this goal, the participating institutions received training and advanced training in the sustainable operation of InaTEWS in selected training courses, internships and drills with the PROTECTS programme, from June 2011. More than 192 training courses, which covered all aspects of the operation and maintenance of the tsunami early warning system, were successfully implemented. The training courses were conducted with the aim of capacity development: In order to successfully and permanently maintain a tsunami early warning system, the persons and technical experts who operate, maintain functionality and enhance the system must receive advanced training and advice. The political decision-makers, who are responsible for the warnings and responses, as well as the population itself, must also be involved in the process.
In addition to the technical development, it is primarily "soft skills", for which training was provided, to correctly assess the situations in an emergency and then make decisions, which save human lives. With the development of measures, regulations and technical instructions, PROTECTS provided advice that serves to implement the BMKG warnings in terms of practical protective actions at the local level. This also includes the development of risk and evacuation maps, programmes for training local decision-makers and planners, as well as for enlightening the affected population.
On 12 October 2011, IOWAVE11 drill was conducted in the Indian Ocean, with which the functionality and capability of InaTEWS was tested in taking of the role of the Regional Tsunami Service Provider (RTSP). The course of the drill and the successful evaluation led to Indonesia administering a dual function since then, alongside Australia and India, as a National Tsunami Warning Centre and as an RTSP, therefore having the responsibility for warning 28 Indian Ocean rim countries in good time about a threatened tsunami. In this way, another important functional level was successfully realise, which was the result of the continuous enhancement and complete upgrade of InaTEWS. GITEWS/PROTECTS made an impressive contribution to this success and the associated international visibility.