CIO and Emerging Technology Observations

Recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami 

J.P. Auffret, Director, Master of Science in Technology Management at George Mason University

At the one year anniversary of Japan’s devastating tsunami (March 11, 2011), recovery efforts continue—finding housing for the displaced, deciding on which cities to rebuild and how to rebuild them and planning for better warning systems.

ABC’s Mark Willacy provided an update visiting the towns and cities of the Japan coastline one year later.

Technology is a part of the effort in remembering, in recovery and in preparing for future tsunamis.

Fuji Television and producer Takayuki Hayakawa, and Ridley Scott are partnering on a full length movie project Japan in A Day made up solely of video shot on March 11th, 2012 and providing a look at Japanese life one year after the tragedy.

As part of the effort Fuji TV is distributing 200 video cameras for use in the disaster area and  videos will be taken by both amateurs and professionals and uploaded to a YouTube site.  The  movie is going to be released before the end of the year and proceeds are going to be contributed victims of the disaster.

In the area of enhanced preparedness–NTTDoCoMo has announced a new mobile phone warning service call Early Warning “Area Mail.

Early Warning “Area Mail,” a Japanese-only service, promptly relays early warnings of strong earthquakes from the Japan Meteorological Agency, and also disaster and evacuation information issued by national and regional public institutions. The agency issues the warnings after special sensors detect signs of imminent seismic activity in a given area. Early Warning “Area Mail” is specially configured to immediately transmit warnings to mobile devices in the area with little or no effect from network congestion.

(For a more in depth look at NTTDoCoMo disaster recovery initiatives, click here.)

And at a recent awards dinner in Tokyo hosted by Agile Media Network, Google Person Finder was selected by a panel of Internet experts as well as Internet users as the volunteer web service had the most impact in the tsunami’s aftermath. Launched the day of the tsunami, Google Person Finder helped people find their missing relatives and friends.  According to Japan Times Online, the service, which ended October 30, had 67,000 entries logged in by more than 5,000 volunteers.

Other services that won awards included Volunteer Platform, which provides volunteer information in Tohoku, and Tasukeai Japan, which gathers information about what supplies and what kinds of volunteers are needed in specific areas.

Additional winners included a Yahoo Japan site that acted as a portal for websites supporting disaster reconstruction and Ganbaro Nippon-Play&Smile for Japan, a website that collected photos and video clips of smiling children to cheer up Japanese citizens.   Omoide Salvage Album Online, which cleans up photos damaged by the tsunami and returns them to the owners, also won an award.

Later this year, Professor Auffret ( will travel to Tokyo to present at an APEC-TEL international conference on “Anticipating the Needs of the 21st Century Silver/Aging Economy.”  Japan is quickly becoming a super aging society with over 25 percent of its population forecast to be age 65 or older in 2020. The elderly were among those most severely affected by the 2011 tsunami.



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Clodagh Bassett

I am the assistant program director of the Master of Science in Technology Management program. In my more than 13 years working with this program, I have seen students grow and mature within the program to achieve their career goals. My goal is to always have a satisfied customer/student.

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