Special Issue on Creating Community-Based Robust and Resilient Society
Takashi Furuya, Haruo Hayashi
The “risk society” has become a key 21st century theme due to the economic expansion and population explosion spurred by science and technology development during the 20th century. We must create societies resilient against risk to preserve well-being and continue sustainable development. Although the ideal would be to create a society free from disaster and crisis, resources are limited. To achieve a more resilient society using these resources, we must become wise enough to identify the risks threatening society and clarify how we are to prepare against them.
The traditional engineering approach is limited by its aim to reduce damage reduction as functional system of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability by focusing on mitigative action. We must instead add two factors – human activity and time dependency after a disaster – to make society more risk-resilient.
The Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) seeks to create new social, public, and economic value by solving obvious problems in society. In promoting science and technology R&D for society, RISTEX supports the building of networks enabling researchers and stakeholders to cooperate in solving societal problems. Our initiatives use R&D employing knowledge in the field of the humanities and social sciences, combined with natural sciences and technologies. Based on these existing accumulated knowledge and skills, scientifically verifying issues and lessons learned from these disasters, RISTEX launched a new R&D focus area, entitled “Creating a Community-Based Robust and Resilient Society,” in 2012. This R&D focus is to develop disaster risk reduction systems making society robust and resilient in the face of large-scale disasters.
Two crucial key words in this focus area are “community” and “links.” Specifically, we must reexamine community frameworks to facilitate how diverse elements of society – industry, academia, government, and citizens – can be linked and activated in overcoming complex widespread disasters. Our R&D focus is grounded in the reality of urban and regional areas, and fosters mutual multilayered cooperation.
In this issue, which mark the half-way point in the six-year RISTEX R&D focus program, we present 13 papers of reports on R&D studies selected by RISTEX in fiscal years 1 and 2, reviews appraising the academic significance of these reports, and studies that introduce new findings obtained through experimental studies.
Seven papers resulted from four projects in the first year, three dealing with postdisaster reconstruction. The first, the Land Conservation and Resilience after Flooding Disaster project, deals with assisting in farmland restoration following heavy rainfall. Based on a detailed activity survey and geographical analysis, the report discusses significant roles played by community and incorporated non-profit organizations collaborating with groups outside affected areas. Of the two reports on the Redevelopment of Tsunami Impacted Coastal Regions, one analyzes the reconstruction planning process of a district completing its group relocation relatively early among communities in coastal regions devastated by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. The other describes the computer reconstruction of village swept away by the tsunami, workshops conducted to improve reconstruction accuracy and the process by which community identity is strengthened by sharing common memories. Reports on the Disaster Mitigation Project of Traditional Buildings discuss current and future prospects for comprehensive disaster mitigation efforts in preservation districts based on a questionnaire focusing on the social capital in preservation districts for groups of traditional buildings. They also present results of action research aimed at community building based on connecting the historic townscape with people and organizations.
The last first-year project deals with Computer-Assisted Structuring of Disaster Information. Related papers propose the design of a database schema for effectively processing disaster management information and use of natural-language processing to assist in this process. They also discuss issues related to the construction of an online information processing system for facilitating information coordination at disaster response headquarters that must process vast amounts of information in disaster response efforts.
Six papers resulted from four projects among those selected in the second year. A paper on Resilient Metropolitan Areas Creation proposes multiscale community-based disaster mitigation planning preparing for a Nankai megathrust earthquake based on the need for a diverse region-wide discussion. They also report on workshops conducted based on this approach. One of two reports on Edutainment Disaster Relief Training proposes a sustainable training model based on scientific analysis of disaster medicine training – the first such attempt in medical relief. It describes implementation of an actual drill. The other report points out the need to classify disaster medicine learners into several hierarchical levels and discusses elements necessary for developing training programs as medutainment based on a comprehensive review of domestic sources on educational approaches and disaster medicine. The report on Structuring an Autonomous Regional Disaster Prevention Community describes how safety measures adopted since the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake by fire companies suffering many casualties from the disaster are effective in regions at risk of disasters other than tsunamis such as landslides. The report the Life Recovery of Public Rented Temporary Housing Dwellers presents ethnography and interview survey results with residents of public rented temporary housing regarding elements of life recovery such the housing situation, income and livelihood.
Many field specialists agree it is essential to integrate science and technology in promoting R&D helping reduce disaster risks while achieving a resilient society. We must now put this concept into practice to ensure that research results are implemented. In effective risk and crisis communication, we focus on key prerequisites of people and society. We also address social issues using accumulated knowledge and technologies in individual fields as a starting point and linking these to the launch of new social implementations for achieving a resilient society.
We express our sincere thanks and appreciation to all of the authors and reviewers involved in this special issue for their invaluable contributions and support.