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Google, local governments to share evacuation info

Kyodo

Google Japan Inc. has reached an agreement with seven regional governments to work together to provide evacuation information to residents.

Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Gifu, Mie and Tokushima prefectures, as well as the cities of Chiba and Kawasaki, agreed to provide relevant information to Google if a major earthquake or other emergency occurs, Google said Thursday.

Google will use such information to show the location of evacuation sites and how to get there on its Google Maps service.

At the time of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in the Tohoku region, Google created an evacuation map on its own, using addresses already made public.

But as the process takes time, Google decided to obtain information directly from local governments to help meet the pressing needs of evacuees. The firm plans to sign similar deals with other local governments in the future.

In a related move, Google this week started taking pictures in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which was severely damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The panoramic images will be viewable via Google’s Street View service in several months, the Internet search engine operator said.

The town asked Google to take the pictures to preserve the memory of the disaster.

Google will take pictures of collapsed houses and debris using its Street View cars, including in evacuation zones within 20 km of the nuclear plant, which has been crippled since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Google said it would take Street View pictures in other towns around the plant if requested.