Thursday, January 11, 2007


NHK uses mobile TV for improved earthquake and tsunami alerts

Earthquakes are common in Japan and when a medium or strong earthquake occurs, Japanese TV channels will superimpose a newsflash of a couple of lines giving information on the strength of the earthquake and affected areas without interrupting the programming (of course, in the case of very strong earthquakes they will cut to a news report).

Today Japan’s public broadcaster NHK announced that it was launching a new service to display additional information on earthquakes stronger that 3 on the Japanese scale on digital broadcast TV including mobile TV. When an earthquake occurs, the interactive button will become an ‘earthquake info button’. Pressing the button will bring up detailed information on the earthquake and alerts of possible tsunami.

NHK says that the service (which launches next Wednesday) is in response to viewers’ complaints that they sometimes missed the standard text newsflashes. It’s really interesting to see how the Japanese are using technology (and particularly the mobile – the earthquake emergency system that the operators have set up there makes the mobile an essential safety device) to improve their response to natural disasters.

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