Editor : Martin Simamora, S.IP |Martin Simamora Press

Senin, 30 Mei 2011

Open govt for better disaster preparedness in Japan

In the wake of March’s earthquake and tsunami that claimed 14,000 lives, the Japanese government is planning to introduce two measures meant to reduce the number of casualties.

First is to make tsunami warning alerts more accurate and tailored for the individual; and secondly, the government will move towards a more transparent and open government approach to raw disaster data.

Horoichi Kawashima, Special Advisor, ICT, Saga Prefecture, told FutureGov Asia Pacific that the IT professionals and government officals are discussing ways to reduce the number of casualties based on lessons from the March 2011 disaster.

“We are talking about making our relationship with citizens more proactive and providing accurate information to each citizen depending on where they are located,” Kawashima said.

He said that the government should have accurate monitoring information on what time the tsunami wave will hit which locations, how high it is, and where is an appropriate safeplace depending on each citizen’s current location.

“With a more pro-active approach to each individual, we can send a tailored message. So a citizen located in District A should be told which safeplace to go to, and which route to take. If we had a better alarm system that is more accurate and pinpoints exact locations to individuals, it will be a way we can reduce the number of casualties.”

He says that the current voice announcement system only has a single message which “some people didn’t take seriously”.

Kawashima also said that the government should disseminate information that they have quickly—regardless of how accurate it is. His rationale is that if the information was available to the public and foreign governments, “people can interpret the raw data and get comfortable with what is actually happening”.

“Although some interpretations might be wrong, having more information sets people at ease. During the nuclear disaster, there were a lot of criticisms from the private sector and foreign governments on why more information wasn’t provided quickly and transparently,” Kawashima said.

“We are thinking about making our local government and the central government release raw data quickly even though it might not be perfect.”


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