Japan to offer disaster info through car navigation systems


The government is set to offer disaster information to drivers through vehicle navigation systems using Japan’s satellite system, a government source has said.

Tokyo wants to introduce the service, which could start as early as fiscal 2018, after many people in vehicles were not able to obtain crucial information quickly enough during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the source said Monday.

The system, which utilizes Michibiki satellites, has an advantage over other communication infrastructure, including mobile phone networks, as such facilities can be damaged or destroyed in disasters.

The government is planning to ask companies to cooperate as certain software needs to be installed in navigation systems, according to the source.

The government conducted experiments last November in Wakayama and Kochi prefectures, and tested issuing tsunami warnings via Michibiki satellites.

Separately, the government plans to build a safety confirmation system utilizing the satellites. In the envisioned system, people would be able to confirm the safety of their family members and friends once evacuees input their names and other information at evacuation shelters.

The government plans to introduce the safety confirmation system on a trial basis with five municipal governments during fiscal 2018 and hopes to expand the number to 20 in fiscal 2021, the source said.