[Guest blog post by Hal Seki, the managing director of Sinsai.info]
Hi, my name is Hal Seki. I am the managing director of sinsai.info.
I am CEO of Georepublic Japan, and also a member of OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan.
As introduced in this blog before, we have started to run the website http://sinsai.info using the Ushahidi platform to provide information about the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.
The website is mainly operated by the OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan, and supported by more than 200 volunteers.
One month has passed since the earthquake struck off Japan. We have spent most of the time on improving the sinsai.info site since we took over its management on the very day of the earthquake. Let us review our activities.
I would like to thank all of the contributors who helped to make Ushahidi as it is today by sharing it as an open source software, and keep upgrading it. Without the Ushahidi platform, we could not have gathered as many as we have done so far.
Here is the latest status of sinsai.info usage:
Sinsai.info was launched just after 4 hours since the earthquake hit
The very first report was uploaded after 3 hours since the site was launched
Total number of reports as of April 11 - 9,405 (10,518 including reports which are not approved yet)
Total page views - 1,213,258
Total number of visitors - 833,399
Total number of unique visitors - 430,021
Number of countries where the user accessed to the internet - 151
Organizations that use Sinsai.info - Yahoo Japan, Google, Japanese government official website (Tasukeai Japan), ESRI, etc.
Reasons why we could collect many reports:
The penetration rate of Twitter in Japan is high (more than 20 million, more than 16% of internet users). Many tweets, which ask for the safety of the people were posted massively.
Moderators were well-organized at the early state, making the hash-tagged tweets into the reports.
As the number of reports increased, the recognition of sinsai.info also increased. There are many direct reports to the sinsai.info site these days.
This Great East Japan earthquake has extensively affected including crippling on-site infrastructure, cell phones, and electricity. Under such circumstances, I have become painfully aware of powerlessness of IT over the past one month. I have also constantly frustrated that I cannot provide direct support toward disaster-affected areas even using sinsai.info support.
In fact I may be the one who is rescued the most through this activity. Even if I get to the disaster affected areas, I know I would become a burden. However, there is still something that I can do which made me forget a looming sense of anxiety and frustration on a daily basis.
I am still not sure how many people are being helped by sinsai.info. However, when I talk to NGOs and people who have been to disaster-affected areas, it appears certain that information gap becomes serious issue. Therefore, I believe that platform like sinsai.info may be of help at a time like this when electricity and communication infrastructure are recovering. With that in mind, I would like to continue our activities.
Our repository is placed as below:
We look forward to hearing your ideas and comments. Thank you for your attention.