Eye on research
THREE Malaysian universities, including Universiti Tenaga Nasional ( Uniten) and 10 Japanese institutions, conducted a joint research to study the signs of disaster and develop an early warning system for natural disaster in Malaysia as part of the first Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development ( SATREPS) projects in Malaysia. The research output was being handed over during a ceremony officiated by Higher Education Malaysia deputy minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching in Dewan Za’aba, Higher Education Ministry in Putrajaya.
The research titled “R& D for Reducing Geo- hazard Damage in Malaysia Caused by Landslide and Flood” by the three Malaysian universities – Universiti Sains Malaysia ( USM), UniteN and Multimedia University ( MMU) – was led by USM professor Dr Habibah Lateh and worked with Japanese counterparts from 10 institutions.
“Whenever a natural disaster hits an area, the damage done was not only on lives but also properties, which may cost millions of ringgit,” said Prof Dr Habibah. “If we can predict such disaster, we can save a lot ( of ringgit) from the loss of properties.”
The project, still undergoing testing phase, will benefit not only Malaysia but also other Asian countries, according to her.
“This is one of the ways MOHE can contribute to the safety of our people in Asia,” said Yap, quoting the Department of Higher Education director- general Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail as “one of the high- impact research that can contribute to the nation”.
The project cost RM18.2mil when implemented and can also identify evacuation spots for victims, besides providing datadriven information to the public, she added.
According to Uniten Innovation and Research Management Centre ( iRMC)’ s Prof Dr Ir Norashidah Md Din, this project will provide tools for relevant agencies to address the challenges.
The Uniten team comprising Masters and PhD students also won Silver Medal during the Malaysian Technology Expo earlier this year for their part in the research regarding the early warning system.
“From the agreement ( with JKR and Drainage and Irrigation Department), we have also been granted access to the equipments for flood, rain gauges, water level station, automatic water station and direct the information to InfoBanjir ( a public emergency tool for flood information),” said Uniten’s Assoc Prof Dr Rohayu Che Omar. “This is also part of the university’s effort to provide solution for problems in the country.”
When asked about the impact it brings to Uniten as one of the participants, deputy vice- chancellor Prof Dr Ir Ibrahim Hussein commented that a TNB subsidiary can join the research predicting flood to protect its substations, dams and other properties. The broad field of this study may also complement other fields to make it more realistic, he added, commenting on the possibility of two new Uniten programmes ( virtual media and cyber security) joining the research.
The project will be presented to the Cabinet soon and upon approval will be implemented to disaster- prone areas.
Uniten is a unique institution providing both academic programmes and engineering technology skills training within the same campus. The university’s programmes are focused on engineering, information technology, business management and related areas. It not only prepares its graduates to become competent professionals, but also to develop them as well- rounded individuals with broad intellectual outlook. Uniten is one of the first private universities in Malaysia and is wholly owned by the public- listed Tenaga Nasional Berhad ( TNB), one of the largest utility companies in South- East Asia.
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datuk Mary yap Kain ching ( third from right) witnessing the module demonstration on the early warning system.