National

2019 debut eyed for Japan electronic map system for sharing disaster info

JIJI

The Japanese government plans to fully launch in fiscal 2019 a system in which information on earthquakes, heavy rain and other disasters collected by government agencies and local authorities is displayed on electronic maps, informed sources have said.

The system is intended to facilitate the sharing of disaster information and help enable adequate disaster responses by relevant bodies.

Development work for the system started in 2014 after organizations in the country failed to fully share information on the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region in March 2011.

Under the system, information on infrastructure damage and traffic controls collected by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and on the situations at medical institutions gathered by the health ministry, as well as shelter-related information from local governments, will be displayed on electronic maps on websites, according to the sources.

Images captured by drones will also be available, the sources said.

Such electronic maps “can be used by anyone and anywhere,” an official of the Cabinet Office said, adding that information on the maps will be updated constantly.

Trial operations of the system began with the series of strong earthquakes that struck Kumamoto Prefecture and nearby areas in April 2016.

During the heavy rain in the northern part of Kyushu in summer 2017, the system was used for search and rescue operations by police and firefighters.

It was also utilized for the supply of relief goods by the central government soon after the giant earthquake in Hokkaido earlier this month.

Work to connect central government agencies’ computers to the electronic map system is likely to be completed by next March, setting the stage for full operations, the sources said.

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