Based on lessons learned from experiences during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the assumption that the Internet will be much more accessible in disaster situations than traditional communication services like cellular and landline phones, Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency plans to roll out a disaster warning system using Internet-based social-networking services this summer.
Going on a trial run this summer, the system will be put under simulated major disaster situations and will tap into the Internet – which has been statistically more accessible than telephone lines in times of disaster – and help in mobilized assistance, the officials of the agency said. Tests will simulate people caught in disaster emergencies who will use their computers or mobile phones to call for help via social networking sites like Twitter or Japan’s domestic site Mixi, the officials added. These tests come after such stories and cases like in the town of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, where a victim was saved by a relative’s Twitter message.
The agency will then try to respond to these “social network” emergency calls – totally separate from the emergency phone calls using the 119 number – and radio the information to fire and other rescue-related authorities. In an environment with massive amounts of data like the Internet, the trick is always to filter the information and get to the ones that are legitimate and helpful. To this end, the agency also plans to work with the social network operators in digging and extracting data on emergency alerts found on the Internet and create a data form to input details for assistance such as addresses, health conditions and other data.
And moving forward, the agency has looked to create ground rules, especially measures to deal with false reports. After this summer’s trial operation, constant drills will be held with fire and other rescue-centric departments to validate if the system can be effective. The “social network” emergency system will be a big step forward for Japan’s disaster management processes, especially as from experience, the 119 emergency number was unable to communicate with around 25 percent of the fire departments in the locations hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, due mostly to power shortages or disrupted telecommunications infrastructure.
[ via Kyodo News ]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan