UNDP encourages young teams to come up with new ways to tackle disasters

national January 03, 2016 01:00

By THE SUNDAY NATION

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FIVE bright ideas from Thai youths, including a traveller’s guidebook with a tsunami motion infographic, a signal aid box for flash floods and a foldable boat, will be turned into prototypes to help disaster victims in the future.



These creations come from five winning teams at the recent “Rod Plodpai (Pibat)” (Survive and Safe from Disasters) contest, held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Thailand in collaboration with Change Fusion and allies.
Chonnikan Manchan and Thanapon Kitmuti, or team “Bon Voyage”, took inspiration from the tsunami that hit the Andaman coast in 2004 for their travellers’ guide. 
“Though we didn’t directly experience the tsunami or have relatives or friends affected by it, the picture of people losing their lives or their loved ones stayed in our minds. So we thought something should be done to help out should any such incident occur again. Thailand is a great travel destination, so we thought we should focus on tourists and decided to create a medium that would educate them,” they said. 
“Hence we created a clip providing all the information, which allocates enough Wi-Fi access to watch the clip again so they know what to do in case there’s disaster,” the team said. “The project was made possible through data collection. Every time somebody watches our clip, we collect their demographic information. The more people watch our clips, the more information we can collect, so we can reach more people and have a bigger impact. We created this for the benefit of our country.” 
Team “iSAAC”, comprised of Sittikorn Nuanrod, Mongkon Kotyu, Jakkrapong Suwanboriboon and Todsaporn Wadesiri, talked passionately about their signal aid box. 
“We love inventing things and it is challenging and fun to come up with something that can protect us from natural disasters. We actually had a few ideas but submitted this because we want to make it a real, usable thing. One of our teammates is from Songkhla’s Hat Yai district, which is often hit by flash floods, so as a real victim he knew what the real problems are. Communication is crucial for both victims and relevant government offices, and because state resources are limited when victims have different needs, we thought that our signal-aid box would help.
“We created both the hardware and software and think our signal-aid box will be a great tool in the time of a flash flood. 
“Natural disasters can happen often and are more severe these days. That’s why innovations for prevention are given more importance. Thailand relies less on innovation, so it is important for us to think of how to handle the situation and stay with nature no matter what it brings to us.”
“The Emergent” — comprising Bhuvadon Wongkulchata and Danai Kit-udom – who came up with a foldable boat, said: “This was done as a graduate school project, and then we heard about this contest and submitted so it could be turned into reality.
“A boat can help people where there is flooding, but what happens on dry land? Initially we thought of designing a boat with wheels, but then we thought that if the boat can be folded, it would save more storage space. This is where the idea came from. 
“This was the highlight of our invention, which led to our selection.”
The other two innovations were a temporary shelter created by “Our Shelter” and an adjustable food source for flood victims from “One Come”. 
“Our Shelter”, made up of Mintra Nantarat, Siwaporn Kamkaew and Thanawan Payaktat, came up with building blocks to help put up a temporary shelter for disaster victims. 
“One Come”, comprised of Thapanan Chombhuwata, Sombat Kongrat, Warapon Suriya and Pat Panyaamornwat, meanwhile, came up with a food source idea based on water hyacinth for flood victims. 
The “Rod Plodpai (Pibat)” contest aims to help Thailand’s development process with innovation that can help people learn, adjust and survive disasters. 
Ten teams were selected from among those submitted to the contest in September and October. After joining the 48-hour Social Innovation Camp, where experts shared their experiences and the teams’ described their innovation ideas, five teams with best |ideas were granted a Bt50,000 cash prize to help their inventions materialise.
Deputy resident representative at UNDP Thailand Martin Hart-Hansen said: “I have to thank all the innovators who applied for this project and especially the 10 teams that have come up with great ideas to fight natural disasters in different, creative ways. Their dedication showed that when you think outside the box, you can come up with something new and useful. It is a real challenge for thinkers to develop something from scratch. For the five teams selected in the final round, they will be funded to develop their ideas into actual innovation that, hopefully, could really help reduce the risk of natural disasters in the future.”
 

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