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Govt mulls use of big data for disaster relief


The government will begin developing a system to help disaster victims by utilizing big data gathered from sources such as internet postings, and global positioning system (GPS) data from smartphones and car navigation devices.

The system will enable administrative authorities to immediately ascertain the movements of victims just after a disaster occurs. The government will gather and analyze information including that on isolated local communities and overcrowded shelters, to make the initial response after a disaster, such as search and rescue operations and the delivery of goods, more efficient.

The government will hold a competition by the end of this year for which companies and universities will propose ideas, and plans to conduct demonstration experiments starting in fiscal 2017.

In the series of earthquakes that struck Kumamoto in April, 70 of the 562 shelters serving 20 municipalities in Kumamoto Prefecture could not be used due to damage. This resulted in a number of evacuees being left with no emergency shelter.

Due to fears of aftershocks many people stayed in their cars through the night, which may have delayed deliveries of relief goods.

When Typhoon No. 10 hit the Tohoku region and Hokkaido in August, flooded rivers and landslides isolated a large number of local residents. It took time to determine the number of victims and their locations, resulting in delays in rescue operations.

The planned system is expected to help public authorities quickly identify communities that have become isolated, and sudden spikes in evacuees at unexpected locations. If the central government, local governments, the Self-Defense Forces, police and firefighters can obtain such information more quickly, they can respond in a more comprehensive manner.

Practical methods for implementing the new system will be considered based on proposals from companies

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