Backup City for Tokyo

Picture by Morio

The Japanese Government is taking contingency planning to a whole new level by proposing to build a backup city for Tokyo. Situated 300 miles to the west of Tokyo on an old airport, it would have capacity for 50,000 residents and space for 200,000 workers.

At the time of a disaster the capital would move to this new city so that Japan could continue to function. The city is currently codenamed IRTBBC, or Integrated Resort, Tourism, Business and Backup City and will include buildings for all the key government functions, such as parliament and ministries but will also have general office space and entertainment complexes. It’s also planned to have the world’s tallest skyscraper at 652 m.

Hajime Ishii, a member of the ruling Democratic Party, said, “The idea is being able to have a back-up, a spare battery for the functions of the nation, isn’t this a really good idea?

Err, yes, but wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to find a way to re-purpose existing structures in another city in the time of emergency, much like cruise ships used to be re-purposed as hospital ships?

NHK World TV iPod App

Like millions of others, I’ve been glued to news sources to get as much current information as I can about the ongoing disasters in Japan following the massive earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear plant disasters. This has to be the biggest natural disaster that has occurred in my lifetime.

In pre-Internet days, we had to rely on newspapers and television for news. Those forms of information have their problems. This is the Internet age. I want current information directly from the source NOW, not later. I want current information of my choice, not what news agencies that aren’t directly on the scene think is or is not important for me to know. If I want 24/7 disaster coverage, in the Internet age that becomes possible, allowing me to completely bypass limited conventional coverage.

It took a while for me to find, but there’s an iPhone/iPod/iPad/iOS app from Japan’s NHK called NHK World TV Live. The app is free. Once the app is installed, it operates very simply. You simply open the app and the live video directly from Japan’s NHK World news service immediately begins streaming. Search iTunes for NHK World TV Live.

The service has an English translator that talks over the lowered volume of the original Japanese broadcasts. The English translators aren’t slick and you can hear them become a bit confused from time to time.

There’s also an app from the Al jazeera TV English news network that operates live out of Doha, Qatar. Al jazeera TV English is highly produced from a beautiful state-of-the-art studio. The on-air newsreaders seem to be British nationals. Though Al jazeera gives more news from the Arab world than the typical American is used to, they do a pretty good job of covering international news, including the situation in Japan. Search iTunes for Al jazeera English Live.

Savvy TV news agencies in today’s world have to make themselves available if they want to continue to be relevant. News agencies such as the BBC, CBC, CNN, Fox, etc. seem to be dragging their feet regarding available-to-anyone-anywhere 24/7 Internet TV broadcasting. I believe they are already losing world market share.

 

Interactive New Zealand Earthquake Map

An interactive map, called the Canterbury Incident Map, is online providing information for victims of the recent Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake.  The clickable map gives information on what bridges are open, water distribution centers, road closures, aftershock locations, supermarket locations, and more.

The map also provides some insight for the rest of the world by displaying geotagged Flickr photos and YouTube videos.  It’s another example of a great use of modern technology.  It is providing crucial information for local residents as well as showing all of us exactly what the situation on the ground there is.  The latter is also helpful for those looking to provide aid to the area.