The workshop on INSPIRE and ESCAPE software application for tsunami hazard and risk assessment and evacuation planning, held on 4-9 August 2014 in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, successfully concluded with a community meeting to affirm optimally feasible evacuation paths and shelters.


Nineteen participants from Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre, Coast Conservation Department, National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency, Survey Department, and Department of Meteorology (Hambantota Office) participated in the 6-day workshop on the functionalities and applications of the Internet-based Simulation Platform for Tsunami Inundation and Risk Evaluation (INSPIRE) and the Evaluation System for Computing Accessibility and Planning Evacuation (ESCAPE). Both applications are web-based tools: INSPIRE, for processing data, simulating tsunami propagation and inundation, and estimating tsunami loss; and ESCAPE, for computing the fastest evacuation path toward shelters, informed by INSPIRE outputs on tsunami safe areas.  The workshop used data, generated from near-shore bathymetric, topographic, and exposure surveys in Hambantota in April 2013, which were processed and prepared for use in INSPIRE and ESCAPE through a training at RIMES on DEM generation from July – August 2013.  Most of the workshop participants were involved in these activities.



Workshop outputs, which include tsunami arrival time from the worst-case earthquake scenario, maximum depth and extent of potential inundation, potential loss of life and building damage, shelter locations and capacities, and evacuation routes were presented to the District Disaster Management Committee and in a meeting with 20 representatives from areas in Hambantota that were affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The meeting appreciated the outputs from the workshop, confirmed the tsunami risk areas and safe zones, and selected appropriate shelter locations from the options provided by the workshop. The subsequent field visit verified the evacuation routes to and locations and capacities of the selected shelters, as well as provided alternate shelter options.


RIMES will run additional simulations on ESCAPE  for the suggested alternate shelters, to check on their feasibility.  Maps of tsunami inundation and risk zones, and final evacuation routes and shelter locations shall be handed-over to the District Disaster Management Committee, to guide evacuation planning.


This workshop was conducted under the project entitled “Enhancing Coastal Hazard Early Warning and Response: Tools and Institutional Strengthening”, supported by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific through the Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness. The project aims to build tsunami risk assessment capacities in Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand, building on UNESCO/IOC efforts in the Indian Ocean region and taking advantage of low-cost methodologies developed at RIMES.