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According to Internews Europe, a report on the Japanese earthquake published recently shows that:
“Japan’s highly advanced early warning system proved key in saving lives, but greatly underestimated the likely height of the tsunami and people perished by failing to evacuate to higher ground. Many failed to receive updated warnings about the tsunami height when local relays such as community wireless speakers were damaged by the earthquake or disabled by power cuts.”
“A major social media and tech emergency response provided a vital information lifeline to survivors, but was blunted by the large-scale power blackouts, the disruption of mobile telecommunications networks and by the demographics of the disaster, which affected coastal areas where 30 percent of the population is over 60 years old and less accustomed to accessing information online.
“Low-tech local community-led media initiatives (radio, newspaper ,and newsletters) met the urgent needs of communities affected by the disaster for information on the missing and the dead, on shelter, food, water, and fuel in ways that national media, in particular, TV, was unable to.
“Humanitarian responders were not aware of the powerful information resources created by the volunteer technical community, and lacked information sharing systems and coordination mechanisms, which led to survivors being repeatedly asked the same questions by different agencies.”
“The report makes several recommendations to the international humanitarian communitythat include providing technical and financial support to local media, given their strategic importance in disaster response and recovery systems.”