Japan


ICT for the aged

Posted by on May 3, 2015  /  0 Comments

Japan is a country that grew rich before growing old. In the countries that we work in, the median age is rising fast and more people live long. Our fear is that these countries will grow old before they amass the wherewithal to support a good life for their elders. Little has been done mobile ICTs for the aged. It is significant that this colloborative effort is focused on Japan, perhaps the country most associated with the problem of an aging population.
Since we run the DRR lecture on a shoestring, there will be no paid media ads. We are grateful for publicity. If forewarned is forearmed and you are in the NGO sector specifically in DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) there’s a lecture on Disaster Risk Reduction Public Lecture: Regional Readiness. Disaster risk reduction is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and reduce the causal factors of disasters. Reducing exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment and improving preparedness and early warning for adverse events are all examples of disaster risk reduction.
In the late 1980s, I supervised a Masters thesis on the emergence of the fax. Those days, fax was big. Among the drivers she found were the significance of Japanese corporate culture and ideograms. It appears that the Japanese who were then the most enthusiastic adopters have not given up on it yet while the rest of the world has. Japan is renowned for its robots and bullet trains, and has some of the world’s fastest broadband networks.
How does one plan for 97 feet high tsunami? The scale of the possible tsunami trumps all previous notions of the risks facing the town. Deadly tsunamis have been rare here; the last few waves to reach Kuroshio, including one in 1946, did little damage. Town officials are not entirely blind to the risks of sitting on a shoreline facing one of the world’s most active seismic rupture zones. Two years ago, they built a tsunami tower for residents to flee to, but it is only about 40 feet above sea level.

No walls can stop tsunamis

Posted by on November 3, 2011  /  1 Comments

I recall a meeting within weeks of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, convened by the current President (then Prime Minister), to seek the views of intellectuals about rebuilding. The most memorable suggestion came from the late Arisen Ahubudu, who began with a reference to Madagascar once being part of Lanka and ended with a proposal to build a wall around the island, adhering to ancient Sri Lankan engineering norms. Luckily, it was not acted upon. In contrast, some bureaucrat in Japan accepted a harebrained proposal to build a wall to stop tsunamis. That collapsed in the tsunami that came with the Great Tohoku Earthquake.
At LIRNEasia we consider every disaster, however tragic, an opportunity to learn. Among the disasters we have analyzed are the 2010 evacuation orders in Sri Lanka, the reaction to the Bengkulu earthquake and ensuing tsunami alert in 2007, and even the Cyclone that devastated Burma/Myanamar. Here is our contribution to the analysis of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the ensuing local tsunami and teletsunami. It has been published in multiple places. The excerpt below is from Asian Sentinel.
We are saddened by the multiple tragedies of the earthquake, dam break, nuclear station problem, local tsunami and teletsunami. We offer our condolences to the victims and our admiration and encouragement to the brave men and women doing the hard work of providing succor to the survivors. More concretely, we are working on a media note summarizing lessons from our post 2004 tsunami research, which was on risk reduction, not on relief and recovery. Here below is a excerpt from the note. The full text is Pacific tsunami revised.
I lived in the US at the peak of the scare stories focused on Japan. I now live in Sri Lanka at the peak of scare stories focused on India. The following should be educative to the scare-mongers: Economic events and market trends are notoriously unpredictable. In the early 1980s, the Japanese high-technology assault on the American computer and semiconductor industry seemed scary. “What are our kids supposed to do?
Today at the IITCOE workshop Ashok Jhunjhunwala made a strong argument that the Indian government must hive off the backhaul networks of BSNL and have them be managed by a separate company. Interestingly Masayoshi Son, the Japanese entrepreneur has made more or less the same argument in Japan. Great minds think alike. The government is expected shortly to unveil a scheme to loop the country with fibre-optic lines that will support internet access at up to 100 megabytes a second, ten times the speed of the technology being replaced. Mr Son argues that to guarantee fair access to this network—and thus the most efficient use of it—it should be run by an infrastructure firm hived off from NTT, owned jointly by all the telecoms operators.
The colloquium was conducted by Harsha de Silva, PhD. Harsha began by explaining that the paper focus both on trains and buses, but in this colloquium will focus on the Bus transport. 75% of passenger transport is via public transport and of that 93% by bus and 7% by train. Roughly 5500 SLCTB and 18000 private buses. The fare is regulated by National Transport Commission (NTC).
Brussels, Nov 25-26 – Third Civil Protection Forum organized by the European Commission. It rains heavily, but fortunately no floods as in Ireland. Ideal environment to discuss disaster risks. I speak at Seminar F titled ‘Innovative Technology for Disaster Management’. I am one of the two speakers from Asia in the entire conference; the other is from Japan.
LIRNEasia’s future work will focus on knowledge-based economies, which makes us very interested in stories like this, which place innovation at the center. China’s productivity has been lifted by a massive expansion of private enterprise, and a shift of labour out of agricultural work and into more productive jobs in industry. China’s average return on physical capital is now well above the global average, according to Goldman Sachs. A decade ago it was less than half the world average. Why have the Asian economies led the pack?
What does mobile handset design and Darwin’s theory of evolution have in common. Read the full article for an answer. At first glance, Japanese cellphones are a gadget lover’s dream: ready for Internet and e-mail, they double as credit cards, boarding passes and even body-fat calculators. Competition is fierce in the relatively small Japanese cellphone market, with eight manufacturers. Takeshi Natsuno developed a wireless Internet service that caught on in Japan.
Several years back, Korea topped the OECD’s broadband rankings and the ITU’s Digital Opportunity Index. That caused a lot of countries to reexamine their broadband policies. It caused others to develop new indices. The NYT carries a report on one: After the United States, the ranking found that Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway rounded out the five most productive users of connectivity. Japan ranked 10, and Korea, 18.

Passage to India

Posted by on November 23, 2008  /  1 Comments

In 1997, NTT bought 35 per cent of a badly managed government phone company called SLT along with the right to manage it for five years for USD 225 million. The decision was bracketed by the Central Bank attack (on a per capita basis more devastating than the World Trade Center hit of 11 September 2001) and the bombing of an empty [Sri Lankan] World Trade Center. Many wondered what the logic was. One explanation was that NTT saw Sri Lanka as a stepping stone to India. But no step was taken.
The number of subscribers to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) services – a technology that enables broadband access on mobile phones and other computing devices – will more than double next year in Asia, according to a forecast by telco industry group GSM Association (GSMA). In an interview with BizIT, Jaikishan Rajaraman, GSMA director of product and service development, said the number of users in Asia subscribing to HSPA will swell from 26.5 million to 53.5 million over the next 12 months. Fuelling this trend are soaring demand from both businesses and consumers, coupled with falling prices of mobile broadband services, he said.