The Japanese government is exploring the idea of using social networking services during crisis situations, when traditional voice-based infrastructure crashes. IT World reports that the Japanese government hosted a panel in Tokyo, and among its attendees were the head of Twitter Japan, and officials from Yahoo Japan, Japanese social network Mixi, and NHN Japan. The national Fire and Disaster Management Agency held the event in central Tokyo.
Social networks during emergencies (Image credit: Getty Images)
Although in Japan, like in many other countries, emergency services can be accessed through fixed-line, mobile, and IP-based telephone services, a move such as this would deem precious, if seen in the perspective of natural disasters of high magnitude such as Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Early last year, the world looked on helplessly, as one of the most technologically developed nations, Japan crumbled in front an earthquake first, and then a tsunami. During such situations, conventional modes of communication and disaster relief crumble under the swell of calls, coupled with the damage caused.
James Kondo, head of Twitter Japan who was one of the attendees at the event, tweeted from the event that he would want to enhance the service's ability to become a lifeline during crisis situations. According to this report, Twitter posted on its Japanese blog about how the service could be used during emergencies. Some of the entries include posting and searching for information pertaining to transport, and also calling for help. It was also explained how users could update their condition. One of the entries suggested users add the hashtag #survived to their tweets. Doing so would send out a message to the user's near and dear ones that he or she is safe.
Even as Japan was reeling under its tragedy, Google launced its Person Finder tool. Person Finder: 2011 Earthquake aimed to help users search for their near and dear ones. Users enter the ‘Name’ and ‘Family Name’ of the person they are looking out for or want to share information about. Later, to depict the extent of the damage, and show the world how the people were trying to bring their lives back to normal, Google's Street View cars plied on the nation's streets. Google's Street View cars traversed the lanes of northeastern Japan, capturing digital images of the destruction, using the nine cameras mounted on the car, giving a 360-degree, panoramic view of the location. Almost five months after it started, Google returned with never seen before glimpses. To get digital images in this number, the Street View cars covered a distance of as much as 44,000 kilometres, since it began its journey.