Fujitsu App Uses GPS to Generate Overflow Alerts for Local Rivers during Major Rainfall Events

Localized Intensive Rainfall Events Cause Disasters throughout Japan

Japan is often described as one of the safest countries in the world. But in recent years, we have seen a marked increase in natural disasters throughout the country caused by localized intensive rainfall events. Japan is susceptible to natural disasters in terms of topography, geology and climate, and the Cabinet Office has called for all citizens to be aware of and alert to the potential for natural disasters such as typhoons, heavy rainfall, flooding, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Typhoon damage in particular is increasing, with multiple typhoon events recorded every year over the last few years. Record rainfalls associated with major typhoons have seen rivers burst their banks, causing catastrophic damage to surrounding areas. Local governments throughout Japan are dedicated to protecting residents from danger through a combination of river improvement works and disaster prevention programs, as well as, more recently, dedicated websites that provide residents with updates and emergency information.

Ishikawa Prefecture launched a website in 2001 that provides residents with real-time updates on rainfall events, river and dam levels, and relevant weather conditions within the prefecture.

However the website has several shortcomings, most notably the fact that it is not available as an app for smart devices. Also, the poorly designed interface suffers from non-intuitive user operations with limited availability and slow response times.

First App in Japan to Use Smartphone GPS to Identify Local River Conditions

Fujitsu has partnered with the Ishikawa prefectural government to overhaul the entire system with the primary objective of making information easier to obtain on smartphones, tablets and other smart devices, the technology of choice for many people in Ishikawa. The new app, the first of its kind in Japan, uses GPS in the phone or tablet to pinpoint the closest rivers to the user and provide detailed updates on their conditions.

Fujitsu contributed technical expertise and know-how over a short period to make the system compatible to most popular operating systems, browsers and screen sizes, so as to ensure maximum access to emergency updates across the prefecture.

Fujitsu also boosted system availability to ensure that the service remains available to all users during peak periods when demand is highly concentrated.

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Instant Search and Analysis of 17 Years of Historical Rainfall and River Level Data

The new system allows users to check the levels of rivers near their home and workplace and make emergency plans if necessary. Real-time updates can be projected onto large-screen displays and used in patrols of the local area. The ultimate aim is to rapidly mitigate the fallout from river floods.

Whereas the old system held just 400 days’ worth of data, the new system allows searching and statistical analysis of some 17 years’ worth of river level and rainfall data from around 250 different measuring stations. The data is readily accessible and can be supplied immediately to other agencies for statistical purposes.

The system is linked to monitoring cameras stationed along rivers in Ishikawa Prefecture, providing video images along with flooding alerts that facilitate evacuations.

This Fujitsu initiative demonstrates the power of ICT.