Simon Fraser University associate professor Peter Anderson – whose expertise in emergency communications has played pivotal roles in everything from provincial forest fires to global tsunamis – has been named a recipient of B.C.’s highest honour, the Order of B.C.
The Pitt Meadows resident is one of 13 citizens being honoured for making contributions to B.C. “in extraordinary ways.”
As director of SFU’s Telematics Research Lab, Anderson has played a multitude of key roles in areas of emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation throughout the province and far beyond. He is a pioneer in the use of the Internet for disaster reduction. He developed and supported the first email gateway to distribute the United Nation’s disaster situation reports and appeals for assistance, along with the first websites for provincial, federal and UN disaster programs.
Anderson was instrumental in assisting with emergency response during the 2003 Okanagan forest fires, a role he took on after heading to Kamloops to volunteer his services.
In 2004, he visited Sri Lanka just days after the tsunami and spent the next three years working with government and community stakeholders to devise a community-based warning system that would aid coastal communities, collaborating further on a new Indian Ocean tsunami-warning system project centred in Thailand. His early-warning systems approaches have since been applied to rural coastal stretches of B.C.
Anderson began his emergency communication research outreach in war-torn Sudan in the 1970s, where he worked to develop a communication system with researchers at Juba University. He has provided expertise to the United Nations, creating high-tech systems for its disaster relief program, and continues a long-standing relationship with B.C.’s Provincial Emergency Program and Emergency Management B.C..
Responding to the needs of rural B.C., Anderson created a mobile telecommunications vehicle, supported through his SFU lab, and during threats of floods and other disasters, travels throughout the province, particularly to remote regions, to assist with emergency response.