SIATA: Early Warning System of the Aburra Valley
Metropolitan Area of Aburrá Valley, Colombia
SIATA is a science and technology project framed in the context of risks associated with natural hazards, sustainability, and the development of smart cities.
Background and objectives
Early warning systems (EWS) are an integrated set of monitoring, forecasting and prediction activities, disaster risk evaluation, communication and preparation, and as well processes that allow governments and other agencies to reduce risks of disasters before extreme weather events.
The objectives of SIATA are:
- Monitor: monitor regional conditions in real time. Measure different meteorological, hydrological and air quality variables using different sensors installed at strategic points in the region. This information is available in real time on the SIATA platform.
- Model: develop and implement hydrological and meteorological prediction models, specifically adjusted to the conditions of the Aburra Valley.
- Alerts and administration: deliver the information generated by SIATA to risk management agencies and citizens in a timely manner.
- Communication and education: communicate and educate people who live in areas prone to disasters or near monitoring stations. The goal is to familiarize them with the project and understand how they can make changes to protect their lives.
Below are some of the monitoring networks that SIATA has implemented. Real-time information and the SIATA application for mobile devices can be found at www.siata.gov.co:
- Air quality monitoring equipment for the Aburra Valley: this network has been operated by SIATA since August of 2017. It is composed of a set of stations that measure atmospheric pollutants in order to support local decisions and regional authorities address the issue.
- Scientists Citizen´s Network: the project began in 2015 when SIATA, with funds from the AMVA, developed 100 low-cost sensors to install in homes and workplaces of metropolitan citizens. The objective is to obtain data that will enrich the research adapted to the real conditions of the territory and to encourage citizen participation in issues related to air quality. The first version was well received and that information has been of great benefit for research.
- Rain network: 84 stations that report rain information in real time per minute.
- Meteorological Network: 16 multi-parametric sensors that monitor rain, temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction in real time per minute.
- Disdrometer network: 6 sensors provide information on the intensity of a rain event.
- Network of electric field sensors: 3 sensors created to measure the atmospheric electric field under an agreement with the Faculty of Mines of the National University.
- Level network: 29 operational level sensors that provide data in real time, minute by minute, on the levels of ascent or fall of the Medellin River and its tributaries.
- Hillside monitoring network: a developing network that records real-time data for humidity, temperature and electrical conductivity in the ground. It currently has 4 stations and seeks to alert communities that live in high risk areas, including massive slopes.
- Accelerometer network: 32 accelerometers installed by the Medellin seismology group to measure seismic activity in the Aburra Valley.
- Camera´s network: 9 cameras monitor the city's sky capturing images in real time to record the state of the atmosphere and document the formation and evolution of low and medium height clouds.
- Thermal camera network: 3 thermal cameras located in strategic locations in the Aburra Valley monitor heat sources on the slopes, allowing the early detection of forest fires. This information is transmitted to the risk management agencies, in real time, through various communication channels.
- Ceilometer Network: 3 laser sensors that continuously monitor the air quality in the Aburra Valley make it possible to determine the possible health risks that outdoor activities may represent during critical periods of contamination.
- Pyrometer network: the pyrometer is an instrument used to measure the amount of total solar radiation reaching the surface and to determine if climatic conditions are favorable or unfavourable for air quality.
- Remote sensors: In addition to the sensors that monitor variables at specific points, the project has three radars that complement the activities of SIATA:
- Meteorological radar: measures the intensity of precipitation, the place of occurrence and the speed and trajectory of precipitation in the region.
- Radiometer: measures variables such as temperature, humidity and the amount of water in the atmosphere, which are key factors for weather forecast and to understand the phenomena that occur.
- Wind profile radar: monitors the vertical structure of the wind through electromagnetic waves that interact with the humidity of the atmosphere, recording information from the surface up to 10 km high. This information determines the potential of rain and formation of storms and their propagation.
- Forecast models: SIATA has implemented an experimental numerical model of weather prediction known as the weather forecast and research model (WRF).
- Communication and education: Commencing in 2011, SIATA has developed communication strategies focused on environmental issues, education in risk management and dissemination of associated information.
Financing and resources
SIATA is financed with resources from the Metropolitan Area of the Aburra Valley (AMVA), the municipality of Medellín, EPM and Isagen.
Results and impacts
Barriers and challenges
- To strengthen relationships with citizenship groups and civil society
- To implement more educational and participative programs with business, public agencies, educational institutions and civil society.
- To position SIATA nationally and internationally as a project of scientific excellence
- To support and develop further the open data process
Lessons learned and transferability
SIATA develops and manufactures most of the technology it uses. This allows employees to resolve technical difficulties and replicate solutions in other Colombian cities, as well as share information with other interested entities. SIATA is now used by the Ideam (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies) and Civil Aeronautics, due to the valuable real-time and continuous weather information it provides.