Professor of Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Dr. Shunichi Yonemura, has made public a new smartphone application to aid tsunami evacuation. Based on the information from the user’s current location and possible routes of escape, the application informs the user where to evacuate and shows areas severely affected by a tsunami.
According to the data from the Cabinet Office, 92.4% of those who were killed in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake lost their lives in tsunamis[*], making them the leading cause of death during and after the earthquake. However, because the nature of a tsunami is unpredictable, it is extremely difficult to assess how fast it reaches where one is, how big it is, how urgent the need for evacuation is and where one can safely evacuate on its onset.
Dr. Yonemura’s application is designed to show essential information for an evacuation plan on a map in a simple, straight-forward display so that the user may be able to make appropriate decisions in cases of emergency.
The application, however, is still a prototype and has only been tested in simulated data in a few areas in Koto ward in Tokyo. In order for it to be released to the general public, the software must be synced with the emergency platforms and databases from the Meteorological Agency, Fire and Disaster Management Agency and local governments.
Dr. Yonemura and his team plan to collaborate with aforementioned organizations and private companies, continue collecting data for making further improvements on the application.
[*]Source: “Figure 2. Causes and Deaths in the Great East Japan Earthquake (Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefecture,” White Paper on Disaster Management 2011: Executive Summary, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan