Disaster and Technology: Perspectives from the Field

he following is the summary of a breakout session that was part of the 2016 Annual Conference.



  • Moderator: Akiko Otani, Managing Director, R3ADY Asia-Pacific
  • Robin Lewis, International Coordinator (Disaster Risk Reduction and Response), Peace Boat
  • Lena Ryuji, External and Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft Japan


The moderator Akiko Otani opened the conversation by saying that the number of natural disaster such as earthquakes, tsunami or flood is highly concentrated in the Pacific Rim, and that preparedness for disasters has become even more important in those regions. Robin Lewis suggested simulating various crisis scenarios of disasters, and swiftly adjusting according to how they develop.

Lena Ryuji explained Microsoft’s support in response to the recent Kumamoto earthquake in Japan. Cooperating with the local government, Microsoft provided a cloud-based share point site, including announcements from the city, evacuation center locations, support supplies and event information. Ms. Ryuji said that this was key to knowing the needs on the ground and provide the support that meet those needs.

The panel also discussed other technologies, such as open data analysis to quickly capture the infrastructure’s operation status and disaster situation. They said that it is important to fully utilize those data. Other new technologies included drones that show a full picture of the damage from above or online education apps for children to learn how to evacuate in emergency situations.

Mr. Kaneda of All Nippon Airways added from the floor that corporations can contribute to disaster relief, for example by providing hot water from their aircraft engine’s cleansing operations.

The panel concluded that various technologies have become available now, and that disaster prevention and recovery activities have improved drastically. At the same time, human relations is also key. The speakers also highlighted that it is essential for companies to establish ongoing relationship with NPOs / NGOs and understand their capabilities, so that they know who to work with when disasters strike. The discussion concluded by confirming that it is essential to listen to and empower the people in need.