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Japanese Govt service to provide businesses with quake damage estimates

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government has decided to roll out a paid service that will send notifications of nationwide damage estimates to companies soon after major earthquakes in the Nankai Trough and elsewhere.

The National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED) will use the system to estimate earthquake intensities, damage to buildings and fatalities in 250-square-meter sections nationwide.

This data will be sent via email to paying businesses within 20 minutes of a quake. It is hoped that providing information on potential damage to factories and clients in situations where phones may not be working will help companies get up and running again quickly.

Rapid post-disaster recovery

The messages are to be sent out by the Real-time Earthquake & Disaster Information Consortium (REIC), a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization. REIC plans to start providing information to about 10 major construction companies, home appliance manufacturers and other firms soon.

The fees paid by participating companies are meant to cover operating costs.

When an Ibaraki factory that manufactured semiconductors for automobiles was damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, automakers in Japan and overseas, including Toyota Motor Corp., were forced to stop or reduce production.

An earthquake in the Nankai Trough or directly under Tokyo could halt the activities of a large number of companies. The Japan Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that economic damage from a Nankai Trough earthquake could reach ¥1,410 trillion over 20 years.

NIED’s estimation system was completed in March as a part of the Cabinet Office’s large-scale research projects aimed at promoting rapid lifesaving and recovery after disasters. The government hopes that more companies signing on will aid in post-disaster recovery.

According to REIC, the system uses recordings from about 5,000 seismographs nationwide, structural data on land and buildings, day and nighttime populations, and other information to estimate earthquake intensity, structural damage and fatalities for each area. Information will be provided in 250-square-meter segments.

The monthly cost for companies before tax is ¥48,000 and firms can register as many branch offices, factories and regions where clients are located as they wish.

Estimates are to be sent out within 20 minutes after an earthquake measuring at least 3 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale occurs at multiple locations. Methods of estimating tsunami damage are still being developed, and will not be included in the notices for the time being.

“We plan on looking into using the information to determine whether to dispatch staff to check for damage at buildings and other projects we are involved in,” said the person in charge of the matter at Kajima Corp., a major construction firm based in Tokyo.Speech

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