If the Japanese IT and communications industry has learned anything from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, it is that they must have communication networks that are in their words, “robust, resilient, and dependable” in disasters and emergencies. Japan is now working on developing technologies that might lead to better communications during these critical times.
A Japanese government-funded project is now in the works for a multilayered communications network. This is a joint project of Tohoku University, KDDI R&D Laboratories, KDDI Corporation, OKI Electric Industry, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and Yokosuka Research Park, which seeks to build communications infrastructure that is reliable and disaster-resilient – a multilayered communication network that will have elements of cellular and regional networks such as WiMax, Wi-Fi, and satellite networks.
This January, researchers on the project went to Taiwan to learn from the country’s R&D capacity in disaster-related IT and communications. “Like Japan, Taiwan suffers from natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons,” says Fumiyuki Adachi, professor of electrical and communication engineering at Tohoku University. “Taiwan has been able to provide communication services for disasters, such as broadcasting the monitoring situation to the public and sending update information to rescuers. We hope to include Taiwan’s experience to our project.”
Taiwan has a lot of technology that it can contribute. One specific area is its innovation in software designed specifically for emergency response and recovery. The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has developed an open standard for using SMS to exchange location-based information. The standard, called Open GeoSMS and is approved by the Open Geospatial Consortium, has been effective in facilitating humanitarian coordination and disaster relief.
According to Kuo-Yu Chuang, a manager of ITRI’s Information and Communications Research Laboratories, the invention makes it easy to let others know where you are and what resources you need. In 2012, ITRI researchers designed mobile apps for Android and iOS smartphones. These were used by several Taiwanese humanitarian relief organizations to carry out disaster relief work in Taiwan and other countries, including China, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe. Now Chuang’s team aims to build an open-application programming interface software platform based on ITRI’s Open GeoSMS so developers can create apps that use it.
[ via Spectrum ]