sinsai.info (Ushahidi for Japan tsunami) and its challenges and future

Last weekend, in London, Kobayashi-san’s house became suddenly a conference room via Skype for SHINSAI DIALOGUE.
We started this initiative, just starting to think immediately after 311 happens.

Our dialogue aims to hear deeply from the people on the ground, because we cannot go to the site (because we are so far away and it cost us a lot), so we ask some friends and trustful people who work on the ground to be the eyes of us and give us back the information and their experience and talk in the skype sessions.
We had a very good insightful discussion then. But it was just a start.

I observed so many Japanese people overseas started to do something, or I should say, they cannot help doing something, whatever it was. Ichi from Social company called this activities as “Heroism in disaster” and it is now seen in Japan as well. People who didn’t experience the real disaster feels somehow sorry for them and try to sympathize more and more, and sometime loosing their mind to decide what should be done.
So they just collect money for fundraising and then they don’t know where to aid. So, just pick up the easiest way to donate and those money all goes to Red Cross even though Red Cross Japan is now telling everybody that they cannot spend that much money in a short term, and it will take 6 months to deliver that money to the ground.

There is a big missing channel, from Heroism to the ground, from money pools to the real needs.

So I feel this will be a bit dangerous situation if we just observe, and we started to listen to the real needs at first before starting to move from overseas.
That is the beginning of SHINSAI DIALOGUE.

We invited Mr. Bamba from Bridge for Fukushima, Ms Yukari Umemoto from Cash for Work Japan, and Mr Ichi from Social company.
I will write in the details for tomorrow about Bamba’s activities for Brige for Fukushima, which was really impressive. But today, I will introduce the activities from Sinsai.info and its struggle and its future.

Umemoto-san and Ichi was in the symposium of Sinsai.info and they sneaked out of the venue and connected to Wifi in the cafe or something to talk with us via Skype. We couldn’t hear them well enough but grabbed some part of important impression and information.

Through Skype SHINSAI DIALOGUE talk, Ichi and Umemoto-san was telling us the struggle that Sinsai.info is now facing.
Actually this problem was already identified when the site launched, but “Is this technologies really used for the victims now?”

Sinsai.info launched in 7hours after the Tsunami happened and it was really a quick move. It caught so many signals and messages that says S.O.S. and needs of help or materials. That communication was external, from Tsunami affected area to Tokyo, government or other Japan cities.
But now the phase is changing. After 2 months since Tsunami happened, many places except Fukushima started to move for reconstruction and that is the most challenging period for the residents there. They need more internal communications. Do they utilize this technologies to identify the help offered around their house or schools?
In fact, the people in Fukushima doesn’t have much literacy about utilizing the mobile to access to sinsai.info. Especially not the youth generation, they are living in the paper-centred world, not in the digital. And also, most of them (even the small NGO workers or any initiative leaders) don’t know the existence of Sinsai.info. So, how many of them really use this function for communicating? That is pity.

So, in the symposium, as Umemoto-san said, they discussed to modify their program more deeply associated with the real needs and voices, and the programers themselves have to go to the field. That is their answer.

There is now a lot of small starting-up happening on the ground. Something like a ‘Making a newspaper’, ‘Opening the shops and restaurants’, and that kind of business-start-ups are happening, which stimulate the energy of the people living there.
I found that now Sinsai.info has some more increasing categories in the site.

We will see what will happen from now on regarding this sinsai.info’s move, as it indicate us a lot about technology development and its implementation for the people who suffer in the ongoing disaster.

I found many matching websites are now starting to launch.

Here:
311help.com http://www.311help.com/
OLIVE Tips for survival https://sites.google.com/site/oliveinenglish/
AQ – SHINSAI MAP KIT http://aqworks.com/ja/blog/2011/04/26/japan-earthquake-tsunami-map-kit/

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One Comment on “sinsai.info (Ushahidi for Japan tsunami) and its challenges and future”

  1. ichi says:

    Shino-san thank you for sharing the story.

    Well, I would feel comfortable using the word “challenge” instread of “struggle” as sinsai.info team has been doing great things, contributed to many group of people.

    Yes, there are some limitation of the site, but the site is used by government, corporation, and other 3rd party people who would like to contribute to assist the region.
    Anyhow, having conversation, and sharing the knowledge is important :-). right. Let’s talk soon again.
    ichi


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