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Creating "Disaster Prevention Tech" to reduce the risk of disasters in the world from Sendai that experienced the mega earthquake

2021-02-25
In 2011, Sendai City experienced a once-in-a-millennium mega-disaster. Nearly 10 years have passed since then, and now there is a growing movement in Sendai City to create "disaster prevention tech" products and services in the disaster prevention field that utilize IT technology.
This project aims to foster businesses in the field of disaster prevention by collaborating with major domestic and overseas companies, local companies, universities, and governments, and to disseminate them from Sendai to the world. We asked Takashi Kamikura, Section Manager of the Sendai City Industrial Promotion Division, and Nobuyuki Koike, Chief of the Sendai City Industrial Promotion Division, about their thoughts and background of this project.

Incorporating "disaster prevention" into people's lives

“BosaiTech” --This unfamiliar word is a coined word that combines "disaster prevention" and "technology." Since 2019, Sendai City has been undertaking various efforts by collaborating with local universities and companies to create new products and services "Disaster Prevention Tech” in the field of disaster prevention that utilize IT.

The pillar of the efforts is the "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction" adopted at the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai. This framework, which sets international goals in the field of disaster prevention, was stipulated in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and it was also an opportunity for the name of "Sendai" to be known worldwide.
Before the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Mr. Kamikura said:

"As time goes by after the earthquake, their memory will fade away.
When I thought about how Sendai City could disseminate the experience of the earthquake, the key was the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. I heard that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was widely known overseas among people involved in disaster prevention, and it has become a policy for Sendai City to consider industrial promotion in the field of disaster prevention centered on this framework. "

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction stipulates the needs of preparations for disaster risk reduction and better ways for reconstructions, and it also stipulates the need to involve diverse stakeholders such as academic institutions and private companies. "It is important how we can incorporate the disaster prevention perspective described in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction into our products, our lives, and people's hearts. It must be implemented in society in various ways.” Based on the idea, Sendai City's efforts to create "disaster prevention tech" have begun in the open innovation form by collaborating with universities and private companies in Japan and overseas.

Reducing global disaster risk while boosting Sendai's IT industry

Sendai City started the "BOSAI-TECH Innovation Creation Program" in 2020 as one of the projects to create "disaster prevention tech".
This is a year-round program that major domestic companies and IT companies collaborate to develop problem-solving services related to disaster prevention in Sendai. This year, 5 major companies, organizations and, 7 IT companies that are doing business in Sendai participated.
They devised business ideas that were useful for "disaster prevention" from multiple perspectives while attending lectures on disasters at Tohoku University and business development lectures by mentors.

Mr. Koike, who manages this program, said, "It is important for the companies to apply their own technology and ‘incorporate’ disaster prevention in various fields. Currently, in Japan, environmental issues are often the focus of attention when it comes to SDGs, but disaster prevention is also one of the important goals of the SDGs. Through this program, we hope that products and technologies that utilize disaster prevention perspectives will spread to society. "

By creating and disseminating "Disaster Prevention Tech" from Sendai, we can reduce the risk of disasters not only in Japan but also in other countries in the world. They are pretty sure that such movements should lead to the revitalization of Sendai's local industry and entrepreneurship.

Mr. Kamikura said, "It is said that there are about 600 local IT companies in Sendai. If we can create services that solve various disaster prevention issues centered on those IT companies and expand them to the global market, it can lead to reduce the risk of disasters in the world and promote local industries. " Mr. Koike said, "There are many IT companies with high technology in Sendai, and some of the companies want to use the high technology not only for contract development but also for the creation of their own business. To avoid being greatly influenced by economic trends, I hope this program will lead to the creation of unique new businesses. "

Creating an ecosystem that produces "disaster prevention tech" one after another in Sendai

In parallel with the programs mentioned above, Sendai City also held the “Regional Business Conference 2020” where major domestic and overseas companies jointly develop new businesses related to disaster prevention.
We have started an initiative to design a standard "disaster prevention ISO" for disaster prevention and disseminate it as an international rule by collaborating with the International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University. From 2021, we plan to create a platform that can exchange information and match business development in the field of disaster prevention by involving domestic and foreign companies and universities that have participated in each program. Starting online, we plan to provide demonstration fields such as the coastal areas of Sendai City and municipal facilities.

Sendai City aims to foster an environment in Sendai that can be called a "disaster prevention tech innovation ecosystem" in which innovative "disaster prevention tech" can be produced one after another with the participation of various actors. Mr. Kamikura said, "I want to send out new efforts from Sendai to the world to reduce the risk of disasters in response to the tsunami that might come again in a thousand years and to the disasters of the world. For that purpose, the idea alone is not enough, and it is necessary to incorporate disaster prevention into our daily lives through concrete products and services. I would like to do my best to minimize the damage caused by disasters in 100 or 1000 years by collaborating with industry, academia and, government.”

Mr. Koike said, "I want to create an environment where IT companies in Sendai can grow while working to solve the social issue of disaster prevention. Sendai City is also focusing on fostering social entrepreneurs, and balancing "disaster prevention" and business may become a trend in the future. I hope to increase the number of players involved in the disaster prevention field, so I would like companies that want to create their own business to participate in the program. "

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