Sustaining life during the early stages of disaster relief with a frugal information system: Learning from the great east Japan earthquake

Mihoko Sakurai, Richard T. Watson, Chon Abraham, Jiro Kokuryo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


Important lessons for responding to a largescale disaster can be gleaned from the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The failure of the electrical power system and the resultant loss of information communication and processing capability severely constrained the recovery work of many municipalities. It was difficult for supporting organizations to collect and share information. A frugal information system designed around the four u-constructs is suggested as a solution for handling the very early stages of disaster relief, typically within the first 72 hours and even upon the realization of an impending disaster. This article focuses on basing communications on the most frequently available device, the cellular phone, as the foundation for a frugal IS for disaster relief. Familiar and available tools place minimal stress on an already strained communication system, and enable effective connection between those impacted by a disaster and those involved in disaster relief.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6710081
Pages (from-to)176-185
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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