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After the Great Earthquake hit Japan exactly two years ago, the importance of crowdsourced crisis mapping in any kind of disaster became evident once again. The recently released study "Connecting the Last Mile: Internews Europe Report on the Role of Communications in the Great East Japan Earthquake" elaborated by the UK NGO Internews Europe highlights how communication saved lives after the Japan earthquake and tsunami and how it was essential in helping survivors in the days, weeks and months to recover from the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power crisis.

In the chapter "Technology volunteers: Crisis Mapping the Disaster", the report sheds light on Japan’s version of the Ushahidi crisis map, sinsai.info, meaning “disaster info”, that had been created only hours after the earthquake. It also showcases how Open Street Map (OSM) created a map with 500,000 roads that was shared on the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention’s website…

Publishing date 12/03/2013

UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office, the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre (ADCR), in cooperation with the Government of Japan (Cabinet Office) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) organized the Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction (ACDR) 2013. The conference took place on 23 January 2013 in Kobe, Japan.

The goal of ACDR 2013 was to promote information sharing, exchange opinions, and enhance partnerships among participating officials from member countries, international and regional organizations, academic community, private sector, and civil society organizations.

83 delegates including ADRC member countries and advisor countries participates as well as national and local government officials, researchers and experts.

The conference documents are available on the ADRC website.

Publishing date 31/01/2013

The UN General Assembly confirmed that Japan will host the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 when it passed its annual resolution yesterday on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Previously, Japan successfully hosted the last two such world conferences. The world's first comprehensive framework for disaster risk reduction resulted from the last world conference held in Kobe in January 2005 where there was unanimous support for the "Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA)."

The post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction is expected to offer the opportunity to scale-up disaster risk reduction efforts across the globe. There appears to be an emerging consensus from on-going consultations that it should build on the strengths of the HFA and focus on those elements that are still in need of further action.

Publishing date 10/12/2012

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in cooperation with the University of Tokyo held the United Nations/Japan Nano-Satellite Symposium in Nagoya, Japan, from 10 to 13 October 2012 as part of the activities of the Basic Space Technology Initiative (BSTI) of UNOOSA. In total more than 300 participants from approximately 40 countries participated in the Symposium.

The Symposium's theme was "Paradigm Shift – Changing Architectures, Technologies and Players". Under the umbrella of that topic latest technical developments, programme management and systems engineering approaches as well as the role of nano-satellites for space education were discussed. The event also addressed the status of recent discussions on legal and regulatory aspect applicable to nano-satellite activities.

The Symposium included five technical sessions focusing on Satellite Architecture and Technologies, Innovation in Satellite Development Process, Utilization/Applications of…

Publishing date 29/10/2012

On March 11, 2011, a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan. Now the World Bank and the Government of Japan have launched a joint knowledge-sharing project called "Learning from Megadisasters". In the framework of this project, a study containing 32 thematic Knowledge Notes were published last week. They include six thematic clusters:

Publishing date 11/10/2012

UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office located in Japan, ADRC (Asian Disaster Reduction Centre), is in the process of producing the booklet "Considerations for effective use of space-based information to assess Tsunami impacts - Lessons learned from the recent Tsunami in Japan". This publication is realized in cooperation with the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). The booklet will be of great value for other nations' disaster preparedness efforts by providing lessons learnt on the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. The publication will be presented at the occasion of the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction scheduled to take place on 22-25 October 2012 in Yogakarta, Indonesia. The booklet will also be offered for download on the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal.

This initiative is an outcome of the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office (RSO) meeting in February 2012 in Vienna, Austria, where RSOs agreed to contribute to UN-SPIDER activities and to…

Publishing date 03/09/2012

The United Nations disaster risk reduction office today announced the start of consultations on a new international blueprint for reducing disaster losses ahead of a conference on the issue that Japan has offered to host in 2015. Margareta Wahlström, the head of the secretariat of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), said the new blueprint will build on the success of the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) that was aimed at making the world safer from natural hazards. The Framework was agreed at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture in January 2005 on the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, and a month after the Asian tsunami. “As we look to the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, the start of consultations on the post-HFA framework is a suitable occasion on which to acknowledge the debt that the world owes to Japan when it comes to sharing its vast…

Publishing date 08/03/2012

NTT DOCOMO, INC., Japan’s leading mobile operator and provider of integrated services centered on mobility, announced today that it has nearly completed implementation of a wide range of disaster-preparedness measures introduced in response to lessons learned from the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The measures, which were initially announced in April 2011, are designed to help secure mobile communications in key areas and facilities following a disaster, such as heavily populated areas and centers for coordinating emergency response, sheltering evacuees and delivering relief services. The measures also aim to strengthen DOCOMO’s ability to respond as fast as possible in disaster-affected areas and provide people with greater convenience and peace of mind through the use of mobile communications.

New Disaster Preparedness Measures

Secure communication for key areas/facilities

(1) Install 104…

Publishing date 24/02/2012

Japanese scientists and engineers have completed construction on a new instrument designed to take 3-D measurements of the shapes, sizes and other physical characteristics of both raindrops and snowflakes. The instrument will be shipped from Japan to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., to be integrated into an upcoming NASA Earth science satellite.

Designed and built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar is one of two instruments that will fly aboard NASA's Core Observatory for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. The radar instrument will provide insights into a storm's physical structures. Its data will not only expand our knowledge of precipitation science, the Earth's water cycle, and the supply of fresh water around the world, it also will aid forecasts of hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters. The…

Publishing date 15/02/2012

Japan: Norihiro Sakamoto proposed a plan to make better use of existing satellites so that they could make quicker tsunami forecasts. This would involve using a quasi-zenith satellite system, whereby a satellite is always located near Japan's zenith, so that there is a continuous link with offshore tsunami observation devices.

Norihiro Sakamoto, the former head of technology at the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies, currently serves as a researcher for the Tokyo Foundation and has been advocating development of a "real-time warning system" for tsunami.

To prepare for a disaster when communication networks and satellite dishes are forced offline because of tsunami-related damage, an idea has been floated of building an "ultra-large deployable satellite dish" that can conduct satellite communication through cell phone networks.

This system would usually use a satellite dish located on land, but will be able to conduct communication via satellites in the…

Publishing date 07/02/2012

In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan is investing in sensors and systems to ensure resilience. The country looks for more real-time feedbacks, and better predictive models, in order to better prepare and reduce impacts from future disasters. The devastating economic impacts, with many people displaced by both the waves and subsequent radiation leaks, have led to a new awareness of risks and impacts. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency lost the earth observation satellite Daichi shortly after the disaster when the satellite lost power. The government has set aside funds for a replacement satellite in their 2012 budget, and are working toward the launch of a new satellite by 2013. This satellite earth observation function is seen as a crucial capacity with its ability to image large areas regularly, a capability that can't be replicated with aerial imagery.

The country is also pursuing a real-time warning system for tsunami that makes use of…

Publishing date 06/02/2012

The Japanese government will host a ministerial-level international conference on natural disasters in early July in the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to Foreign Ministry officials. The conference is an opportunity for other countries to share lessons from and responses to disasters. The government also hopes to use the conference to showcase restoration and reconstruction efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake last May and boost tourism in the disaster-hit areas, they said.

The two-day conference's main venue will be in Sendai, with three satellite venues to be set up in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, according to the officials. Japan plans to invite countries that have been hit by large-scale natural disasters in recent years, such as Thailand, which suffered serious damage from last year's flooding, and Indonesia, hit by a massive earthquake in 2004. Latin American and African countries, which are prone…

Publishing date 06/02/2012

Faster tsunami warnings could be issued by using Global Positioning System (GPS) data alongside existing earthquake detection technology, scientists have found. GPS data — provided by a satellite navigation system — could help cut the time lag from 20 minutes to around three minutes, according to results presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in the United States, last week (8 December).

Seismic instruments — on which current warning systems are based — can take a long time accurately to assess an earthquake's strength, because readings from several locations need to be analysed. However, GPS stations can measure large vertical drops in ground elevation — the factor responsible for tsunamis — in real time. This information, when added to preliminary seismic data from the same location, can determine the size — and likely effects — of the earthquake in a matter of minutes. All the technology is already in place in California and Japan, it is just a case of…

Publishing date 14/12/2011

NASA and Ohio State University researchers have discovered the major tsunami generated by the March 2011 Tohoku-Oki quake centered off northeastern Japan was a long-hypothesized "merging tsunami." The tsunami doubled in intensity over rugged ocean ridges, amplifying its destructive power at landfall.

Data from NASA and European radar satellites captured at least two wave fronts that day. The fronts merged to form a single, double-high wave far out at sea. This wave was capable of traveling long distances without losing power. Ocean ridges and undersea mountain chains pushed the waves together along certain directions from the tsunami's origin.

The discovery helps explain how tsunamis can cross ocean basins to cause massive destruction at some locations while leaving others unscathed. The data raise hope that scientists may be able to improve tsunami forecasts.

Research scientist Y. Tony Song of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and…

Publishing date 07/12/2011

On March 11, 2011, the Great Tohoku Earthquake occurred approximately 70 kilometers off the coast of Japan. This magnitude 9.0 earthquake was closely followed by a massive tsunami that reached 7 meters in height. Using NASA Earth Observation Systems (EOS), we will assess the damage to the area impacted by this disaster. Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM), MODIS on Aqua and Terra, and ASTER will be used to create normalized difference vegetation indices (NDVIs) and land classifications of the area. MODIS also will be used to measure sea surface temperature to assess the feasibility of using this data for detecting radioactive water released from nuclear power plants affected by the earthquake and tsunami. An analysis of the economic impact of this disaster also will be made to help policy makers in the U.S. and Japan. This research will show the benefit of using NASA EOS to provide support for disasters around the world.

For more information, please follow the link below to the…

Publishing date 10/08/2011

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) had been trying to communicate with the Advanced Land Observing Satellite "DAICHI" (ALOS) for about three weeks after it developed a power generation anomaly; however, we decided to complete its operations by sending a command* at 10:50 a.m. on May 12 (Japan Standard Time) as we found it was impossible to recover communication with the satellite.
DAICHI, launched on January 24, 2006 (JST), had been operated for over five years, which was its target life and well beyond its design life of three years, and it achieved many fruitful results related to earth observations.
We would like to express our profound appreciation to all pertinent organizations and personnel for their cooperation with our DAICHI operations. JAXA continues to investigate the causes of the power generation anomaly based on the data we have acquired from the satellite, and will report the result to the Space Activities Commission of the Ministry of…

Publishing date 13/05/2011

While reports vary, some estimate the total cost of Japan's March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami at 25 trillion yen, or 330 billion U.S. dollars, making it the most costly natural disaster on record. This is more than three times the size of the second most expensive natural disaster, also an earthquake, and also in Japan in 1995. More than 26,000 are dead or missing and an estimated 400,000 are homeless. Nearly a quarter of Japan's total geography has been altered.

The process of loss assessment, clean-up and rebuilding has begun. One month after the original 9.0 magnitude event, 408 aftershocks greater than 5.0 intensity had occurred and are expected to continue for as long as ten years. Progress, albeit slow at first, is stalled or even reversed with each new tremor.

Damage to their nuclear power facilities may have an impact on the ocean and atmosphere far beyond Japanese shores. A fractured power grid and rolling blackouts have adversely affected essential…

Publishing date 02/05/2011

Japan’s space budget will take a hit as resources are diverted to recovery efforts following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but the Japanese government is determined to maintain most space investment efforts, a top Japanese official said April 13.

Disaster recovery “will have a deep impact on every part of life and government policy in Japan, and space policy is no exception,” said Hirofumi Katase, deputy secretary general for Japan’s Cabinet secretariat on space policy.

But in the longer term, he said, the government is convinced that space utilization is something Japan cannot abandon. “The long-term benefits are recognized,” he said here during the National Space Symposium.

Katase did not address whether the Japanese government would postpone a decision to finance a second Quasi-Zenith satellite, which complements GPS positioning, navigation and timing signals to provide high-precision data in Japan and the surrounding region.

The first…

Publishing date 14/04/2011

GeoEye has been supporting the relief efforts by providing its satellite imagery of the devastation in northern Japan to relief agencies, governments and the media. On March 11, 2011, GeoEye's order management team began directing the high-resolution satellites to collect color imagery over the Oshika Peninsula. IKONOS captured the first post-earthquake image at 10:36 a.m. local time. As of March 21, GeoEye had provided 29,000 square kilometers of imagery to Google.

Emergency first responders and the geospatial community are using their imagery as a base map to produce multiple-layer relief maps to assist with damage assessment, route planning and other crucial aspects of this relief effort. Elite search-and-rescue teams that have flown to Japan from around the world to assist in this enormous relief effort are using their imagery to help locate the missing.

Publishing date 05/04/2011

Satellite images have been essential for helping relief efforts in Japan following the massive quake that struck on 11 March. Now scientists are using ESA’s space radars to improve our understanding of tectonic events.

Scientists from Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia have used the same Envisat data to show a large portion of the surface displacement, with a maximum shift of 2.5 m. These first results, covering an 800 km-long strip over Sendai and Tokyo, show movement far away from the epicentre (denoted by the red star in the top image) in the Pacific Ocean.

The complex technique being used by the scientists is known as ‘InSAR’ – synthetic aperture radar interferometry. It combines before and after radar images of the same ground location from the same position in space in such a way as to detect ground motion down to a few millimetres. The initiative is stimulating international efforts and fostering collaboration between space agencies, in-…

Publishing date 30/03/2011

The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science & Technology (EIAST), the UAE’s premier scientific and technology organisation, has provided recent images of Japan from its UAE-owned and operated DubaiSat-1 satellite. The images of the tsunami and earthquake struck cities were provided to the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as part of a global effort to help assess and plan relief efforts. The co-operation between EIAST and Japanese as well as UN agencies is also a major aspect of the UAE participation in the rescue operations under way in Japan.

DubaiSat-1, launched by EIAST in July 2009, has since been providing satellite images to assist planning and development in several areas including observation and fog forecast, predicting sand storms, identifying water quality in the Gulf region - especially the effect of waste distillation on the…

Publishing date 29/03/2011

Japan needs maps. Not just any kind—detailed informational maps georegistered with latitude and longitude and annotated with simple, self-evident details: this bridge is out, this port is damaged, this farm field is scoured; this one is verdant.

Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology are processing satellite imagery of regions in Japan affected by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated sections of the country's east coast on March 11. The U.S. Geological Survey, a member of the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters," organized the volunteer effort involving about 10 organizations, including Harvard University, George Mason University, Penn State and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

RIT signed on to process images of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the cities of Hachinohe and Kesennuma. At the request of the Japanese, scientists at RIT created before-and-after images that can be printed on large sheets of paper. The team…

Publishing date 29/03/2011

The massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan recently has given rise to a new phenomenon called a complex mega-disaster . Such a catastrophe takes place only when a massive earthquake occurs underneath an ocean, large enough to create movements on the sea floor.

A recent geological analysis of terrestrial as well as extra-terrestrial satellite data has the potential to predict earthquake and tsunami in space and time. It has been observed that before the occurrence of this combination the temperature of earth, sea surface and atmosphere rises slowly. After the earthquake, the temperature falls dramatically resulting in snowfall in high altitudes and rainfall in low-altitude areas.

Space observatory-heliophysical observatory data and cosmic ray data fluctuations can be used to predict short-term earthquakes while tsunami prediction and long-term prediction for earthquakes can be done on the basis of regular seismic microsonation. Mukherjee,…

Publishing date 28/03/2011

The US Army Geospatial Center (AGC) compiled earthquake, water, and geology maps as well as other data sets of Japan and made them available via its public and public key infrastructure (PKI) Web sites last week in support of US quake and tsunami relief efforts.

Engineering Route Studies, Geo-referenced PDF maps, a water consumption calculator, and additional resources are available to the Department of Defense (DoD), federal agencies, and other organisations that utilise Common Access Cards. Public access to the site is available at http://www.agc.army.mil/Japan/index.html. The centre also compiled data for personnel utilising the Defense Advanced Global Positioning System Receiver (DAGR) - a self-contained, hand-held GPS receiver that provides highly accurate position, navigation and timing information to users under all weather conditions.

"The AGC sends its deepest condolences to the people…

Publishing date 25/03/2011

On March 24, JAXA set up a ground antenna and the movable test communication terminal for the KIKU No. 8 at the Ofunato City Hall to connect the communication line of up to 768 Kbps between the City Hall and the Tsukuba Space Center via KIKU No. 8 in cooperation with the National Institution of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) based on a request from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which received a petition from Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture.
With this communication line installation, Ofunato City Hall workers began collecting information by PCs through the Internet. Apart from city hall, local fire departments and other offices can also now use the Internet and IP telephones to share information for strengthening their cooperative activities.

In addition, as one of the special features of the KIKU No. 8 is communications with a small movable test terminal, which was installed at Ofunato City, information dispatch…

Publishing date 24/03/2011