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New system uses smartphones to respond to natural disasters in Japan

TOKYO >> Japan’s government will use communications among smart­- phones as well as a satellite to quickly assess damage from natural disasters and implement rescue operations in areas where telecommunications have been disrupted.

The system, currently being tested in 24 municipalities, would be implemented when cellphone base stations and other telecommunication infrastructure have been damaged. It uses Bluetooth technology to collect information from private phones via smartphone- to-smartphone communication.

The system uses an app that allows residents to enter data on injuries and situations, and will help to speed up evacuation after a disaster. Data is relayed to nearby smartphones, which continue the chain of relaying the information to other phones.

When a resident with data loaded in a smartphone approaches an evacuation center, the information is sent to the Michibiki 3 satellite, which is connected to military, police and other related organizations. Data can also be shared with family members outside a disaster area.

The technology, developed by Tohoku University, is expected to launch in a few years.

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