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September 2017

“Living Information” Needed by Residents in Disaster-Affected Area and How to Deliver It

From a Residents’ Survey on the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes

Sayaka Irie

The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes that occurred in April last year was an unprecedented disaster in a sense that a JMA seismic intensity of 7 was recorded twice within a mere 28 hours. At one point, around 180,000 people—more than 10 percent of the population of Kumamoto Prefecture—stayed in the shelter. Local governments of the disaster-affected areas and media outlets provided the residents with diverse types of “living information” on rationing, transportation, medical services, etc. via various types of media. Based on interviews with local government officials and media professionals and on a survey of 2,000 residents in the affected areas, the author discusses challenges in delivering living information at large-scale disasters.

- In every surveyed municipality, more than half of the respondents cited that it was “difficult to get” information on “prospects for recovery of utilities” such as gas and water. The lack of sufficient information at supermarkets and other commercial facilities was also mentioned.

- For those in their 20s through 40s, the main tool for acquiring information was “smartphones or mobile phone.” They also followed TV news on car navigation system or smartphones.

- Mashiki Town used the “information conveyance” function of “L-Alert” (a disaster information sharing system developed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) to transmit living and supporting information to media outlets in a collective fashion. It was the first utilization of the “information conveyance” function by a disaster-affected municipality, which suggests that the L-Alert system will work as an effective information sharing tool at the time of disaster.

- People who had recognized the risk of active fault earthquake before the 2016 earthquakes also marked a high level of preparedness for disasters. This suggests that making the public well aware of disaster risks of the area serves as a valid method for disaster mitigation.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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