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The Cabinet Office has plans to form a public-private team that will collect and digitize information on damage and relief operations during natural disasters for sharing with local officials, sources said Monday.

The initiative is aimed at easing the burden of disaster management at towns, cities and prefectures by having a single team maintain, centralize and update such data. Such work is often carried out manually when disaster strikes.

The team, which will be sent to disaster-hit areas, will consist of about 10 members including Cabinet Office employees with IT backgrounds and officials from major telecommunication and logistics companies, the sources said. Plans for its formation are to be arranged by March.

The collected data will be shared on a government-run system and any information provided on maps will be linked to the latest weather observations.

The government plans to send the team to disaster drills in fiscal 2018 starting in April to help it gain practical experience.

“A cross-cutting team is crucial as data are collected by separate organizations in times of disaster. The initiative is expected to help dramatically improve the functions of disaster response headquarters,” said Yuichiro Usuda, who heads the general disaster prevention information center at the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience.

The institute plays a key role in developing and managing the information sharing system to be used by the public-private team.

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