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Using the advantages of simulations

Simulations are recreations of serious situations such as an airplane losing operating function. It is said that in the airline industry, there are some cases where the damages were reduced in accidents because pilots not only had studied accidents in the past, but had received simulator training which included newly added training menus developed from the assumptions of various situations.

An advantage of simulations and simulators is that they provide realistic experience of accidents and crises that have not yet happened. Of course this is not limited to the operating functions of an airplane. By running a simulator that is capable of assuming special conditions such as accidents or disasters, it becomes possible to clarify the mechanisms of the occurrences of dangerous situations, and identify the effectiveness of various countermeasures.

Making it possible to examine specific measures for the "problems that have not yet occurred", and evaluate the effectiveness of each measure from both hardware and software aspects...This is where simulations offer considerable value for crisis preparedness.

Combine two separate simulation technologies

After the 3/11 Great East Japan Earthquake, "evacuation guidance planning" is no longer a theory for disaster preparedness specialists at municipalities all over Japan. The Cabinet Office Central Disaster Prevention Council suggests a model of the Great Earthquakes along the Nankai (South Sea) Trough in which "magnitude-9-class earthquakes and 30 meter-class tsunamis" could occur, resulting in the worst case with heaviest damage.

Municipalities are now faced with a demand to come up with not only the hardware countermeasures such as building new tsunami breakwaters as well as reinforcing existing ones, but also the operation procedures that maximize the effectiveness of those countermeasures. In other words, they must also come up with the software countermeasures like the evacuation plans.

KKE offers consulting services for municipalities. We support the formulation of evacuation plans that take various regional conditions and constraints into consideration, by combining a simulator that visualizes the propagation and intrusion of a tsunami and a simulator that simulates inhabitants' evacuation behaviors.

"The behavior of a tsunami changes depending on the earthquake scenario. The time required for starting an evacuation, evacuee walking speed, and evacuation routes all changes depending on the population distribution, demographic composition and time of disaster occurrence. Given conditions of the each region, such as the roads that would be used for evacuation or the locations of tall buildings that may be used as shelters differ. Simulators can be quite effective when one needs to formulate a plan that reflects those detailed regional conditions." (Yasuhiro Kitakami, Innovative Information Technology Department

Physical simulations that describe natural phenomena and multi-agent simulations that describe groups as the sets of autonomous individuals - these simulations enable KKE to offer unique advantages. Furthermore, these simulations are combined with advanced visualization technologies to form a unique system which is the kernel of our support consulting services.

The main value of a simulator is not in the device itself, but in the solutions it can create

"Like the operation simulators and training menus for the airline pilots and crews, our system must be able to support the disaster prevention specialists at municipalities in their efforts to formulate multifaceted countermeasures," Kitakami states.

"According to the hearing survey conducted after the 3/11 Great East Japan Earthquake, behavior of people from the time they felt the shaking to the time they started evacuation could be classified into 4 patterns. The first was the "immediate evacuation" - evacuate immediately after the earthquake occurrence; second was the "evacuation after running errands " - returning home or picking up children before evacuate; third was the "imminent evacuation" - while running errands chased away by tsunami; and fourth was "no evacuation" - already at the safe or high place so evacuation was not necessary."

In addition to performing this type of human behavioral characteristics simulations, we conduct detailed field survey. We walk the evacuation routes and identify potential bottlenecks that may be caused by building or bridge collapses. These field survey results are taken into consideration as we examine the simulation models. However, the value is not necessarily found in the simulation results themselves.

"I think that supporting consulting work is not complete unless we work together with the specialists at the municipality to analyze the simulation results. Only after that collaboration we should be able to present viable measures. Using a simulator as a "tool", we can generate a rational assessment. But that assessment must be correctly utilized for the formulation of evacuation plans, improvement of existing infrastructure, communication with local residents about evacuation procedures, and a grand design for city-planning that responds to disaster preparedness needs. That is the goal of our work." (Kitakami)

We cannot stop an earthquake or tsunami. But we can reduce the damage. In achieving this goal, KKE continues making the utmost effort.