UMS Case Study: Åknes Tafjord


Tsunami in the Norwegian fjords – a likely and devastating threat

Tsunami in the Norwegian fjords – a likely and devastating threat

UMS reduces the risk of a catastrophe in the event of a natural disaster on the west coast of Norway. The Location Based Alerting System deployed by UMS in collaboration with Åknes/Tafjord Preparedness has resulted in more than adequate preparation for one of the major impending natural disasters in Europe.

The most popular tourist destination Storfjorden is situated on the West coast of Norway and branches off into several smaller fjords including the Geiranger- fjord and Tafjord. Geirangerfjord is a World Heritage site and is one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations surrounded

around 80 million m 3 threatens to slide into the fjord in the near future. To put this into perspec- tive, this volume is equivalent to about 8 million trucks filled with rocks and this scenario is ranked as one of the major impending natural threats in Europe today.

Screenshot Masaoki Adachi

When this calamity eventually strikes, the rocks and debris will plum- met into the fjord from a steep angle, a high altitude and at an immense velocity, resulting in a tsunami which will trigger waves up to 80 meters high. The village

The tsunami threat Storfjorden is one of the most spectacular natural sights in the world but within all this beauty a huge mountain slide poses a threat to the local community; a large part of the adjacent mountain, estimated

by mountains reaching up to 1,800 me- tres above sea level. The region attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, increasing the complexity of disas- ter management and planning.


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“We’ll never be able to control the forces of nature, but we’re confident that the warning systemwill keep us safe.” Sindre Mjelva • CEO Hotel Union, Geiranger

No, I don’t feel any need tomove, not at all. I feel safe and sleep well at night. Elling Westerås • Resident in Geiranger

The assurance of safety win the area

of Hellesylt would be hit by the waves within minutes and Geiranger would suf- fer the same fate. There are also several villages with both residential and industrial build- ings closely located to the fjord. Addi- tionally, the hundreds of thousands of

tourists visiting the fjords are also at risk. The probable slide area is only a few kilometres from Geiranger, which is the top destination for all the cruise ships visiting the Norwegian fjords. Dur- ing a normal day in the main season, several cruise ships may visit the area at the same time.

Innovative efforts have gone towards making the region secure to increase predictability and save lives that could be affected by this disaster. Reassur- ing people and industries from leaving the region as well as maintaining the tourism to this beautiful region has also been of great importance. Two main ob- jectives have been accomplished: 1.Predictability: To create predictability, a geological monitoring system for the mountain ad- jacent to the fjord has been established. A large number of monitoring devices, based on different kind of technologies, are continuously measuring the move- ments of the mountainside. Based on certain prefixed threshold values, the emergency level will change if the set levels for danger are exceeded. 2. Communication: UMS Location Based Alerting System has been set up to warn citizens, en- terprises and visitors within the region in case of any unusual geological move- ments, indicating that the slide is about to happen or for when the slide occurs.

The disaster in 1934 The threat that looms over now is something that has occurred before. On the night of April 7th 1934, huge rocks were detached from the mountain “Longham- mer”. The rocks fell 730 meters down into Tafjord and created enormous waves that ruined the village of Tafjord, killing 40 people.


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We are not able to prevent rock slides, but we’re ensuring the safety of people by using real time tools to monitor the movement in the mountain. We have also established routines for evacuation of each village, and there are systems in place for warning the population well in time in case of emergency.

Kjell Jogerud • Åknes/Tafjord Preparedness

The Solution: UMS Location Based Alert System [LBAS] UMS LBAS is a unique and innovative so- lution that addresses two key challenges with respect to the current scenario: 1. In peak season, the number of civilians in the area are multiplied, meaning there is a scaling issue that needs to be handled. 2. The majority are visitors, meaning one cannot expect them to opt- in to receive alerts. Visitors need to be identified on the basis of their current location. UMS LBAS detects all mobile phones in a given geographical area, with both lo- cal and roaming SIM cards, and sends SMS alerts to these mobile phones. The solution is fast, accurate and is embed- ded with UMS’ patented congestion con- trol techniques to avoid bottlenecks and disseminate alerts rapidly. The system

Conclusion The UMS alerting solution can deliver alerts to all people in the vicinity of the threat before any incident occurs and ensures that locals residents and tour- ists can continue to feel entirely safe while relishing the magnificent view provided by these natural surround- ings. The ability to predict and warn is the best insurance against this future threat. This is also a great example of humans successfully co-existing with one of nature’s most marvelous and in- timidating spectacles.

also provides real time information about mobile devices in the area and allows for response monitoring. At the same time, all subscriber information stays within the telecommunication net- work and the system doesn’t violate the privacy of subscribers in any way. Unlike other technologies, LBAS does not require any pre-configuration or reg- istration and operates in a simple and efficient manner. Impact Based in the mountains under careful surveillance, a monitoring centre cur- rently observes and measures the geo- logical movement of rock and sediment through sensors. Åknes/Tafjord Prepar- edness has implemented UMS LBAS for the entire area. The system is integrat- ed with these sensors which will warn the population ahead of time. All mobile phones in the area, including those be- longing to tourists, will be immediately notified.


Unified Messaging Systems AS • Innspurten 15, 0663 OSLO • Pb. 6301, Etterstad, 0604 OSLO, Norway


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