December 11, 2015
Tohoku University Preps for Disaster
But this regional capital, with its own disaster history, is ready, becoming a global center for calamity preparation and response, hosting a UN disaster conference earlier this year.
Led by Professor Fumihiko Imamura, IRIDeS, or the International Research Institute of Disaster Science at Tohoku University, is taking the lessons of the triple disasters of four years ago and creating a global survival plan.
In IRIDeS’ minute-by-minute disaster simulation, staff roles range from obtaining damage and evacuation updates to securing a mobile power supply from two on-site electric vehicles.
“In the Great Earthquake, we experienced a lack of information and electrical power supply. In this drill, we see that EVs and portable batteries can contribute to disaster response, and we are checking on what exact capabilities.”
Masakazu Matsubara of Nissan’s Battery Business Unit says mobility and energy supply are precious commodities in crises, leading governments, health centers and businesses to examine their own continuity plans.
“In the event of a large earthquake, it is said that electricity is restored faster than gas and water, so the interest of local government and companies towards mobile energy storage devices, including our EVs and portable batteries, is growing. We believe that these devices will contribute to disaster response greatly,” Matsubara said.
According to a United Nations report, about 90% of natural disasters result from weather, while some 10% stem from geophysical events.
Overall, the number of global calamities is rising, and along with loss of life and injuries, the UN estimates that global disasters cause up to $300 billion in annual damages.
For Imamura, a Professor of Tsunami Engineering, disaster drills are not about prevention, but how science and data can contribute to risk reduction, and how practice – while not making perfect – can help to protect in the future.