Technology to protect the most vulnerable from disasters

UNDP and Japan Bosai Platform completed a digitalization initiative

June 1, 2022

Philippines is still recovering from the damage and loss caused by Typhoon Odette in mid-December 2021.

Credit: Jonathan Hodder/UNDP Philippines

UNDP in partnership with Japan Bosai Platform (JBP), completed a joint initiative event to boost vulnerable groups' resilience to disasters and the impacts of climate change. The initiative included the co-creation of innovative digital solutions for Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka, under the DX4Resilience project funded by the Government of Japan. 

- For more information on this collaboration, access the UNDP/JBP partnership announcement

To better understand the specific needs and technological challenges faced by the vulnerable groups, JBP and UNDP have conducted a series of online consultations at the country level, in collaboration with government representatives.

"In order to bridge the gap with developing countries, we held several rounds of online consultations with UNDP, starting with a needs assessment. In a normal project, solutions are often provided unilaterally as a given, but by working together from the beginning of the initiative, we ensured that we understood the needs and bridged the gap with developing countries." mentioned Takashi Toyoda, Team Leader of JBP’s assignment team.

Developing a deep understanding of the country's context and the process resulted on selecting seven digital solutions, proposed through the activities in the three countries. Additionally, it was created a co-creation process by UNDP and JBP, and compiled all lessons learned to further advance the project collaboration.

Seven digital solutions to advance disaster resilience

As part of the even, seven digital solutions were selected to showcase how technology can reduce disaster risk. Philippines is still recovering from the damage and loss caused by Typhoon Odette in mid-December 2021 and the event deserved special attention: “I have been impressed with the solutions generated in this co-creation exercise. In the Philippines, we are looking for solutions for Typhoon Odette’s response and recovery efforts and this partnership has been valuable in identifying solutions that can be used as reference in designing projects.”, said Floradema C. Eleazar from the Climate Action Programme of UNDP Philippines.The private sector is leading the way on new technologies for disaster resilience. In Sri Lanka, the digitalization has been a pillar to prepare for disasters.

"The private sector companies should understand the local demand for their high-tech solutions, its sustainability and how they can improve early warning systems."
Anoja Seneviratne, Director of the Disaster Management Centre in Sri Lanka.

Amongst the seven digital solutions is RisKma by CTI Engineering International and Flood Risk Information Platform by Nippon Koei, applications providing real time floods information; Alandis+ that sources map-based information in real time and during disasters; Automated Reception using face recognition by Rikei, that is digitalizing the evacuation process; an AI Chatbot for DRR by Weathernews providing information optimized for each individual for evacuation, including the most vulnerable groups; Long range speaker by TOA, a technology two to three times more efficient on distance coverage, enabling to reach more remote areas and Disaster risk information through digital TV system by DiBEG, enabling efficient communication in many areas populated by vulnerable groups.

Creating together a more resilient future 

One of the strongest messages coming from the event was the importance of creating a common process, as Hiro Nishiguichi, president of JBP highlighted: “To provide the right solution, we need to identify the right problem, working together from the start and with different groups of people. Together through co-creation, we can improve and save lives.”In Nepal, known for his high-altitude mountains and vulnerability to earthquakes, effective early warning system are especially important.

“The early warning system in Nepal has a lot of room for innovation, particularly in ensuring that the most vulnerable communities are reached. I hope we can continue to work together to build on these identified solutions”
Vijaya Singh, from the resilience and disaster preparedness unit of UNDP Nepal.
Empathy to create a sustainable, inclusive and resilient future 

This collaboration was a valuable opportunity for JBP member companies to discuss the challenges facing their countries, define the right issues, and co-create the most relevant solutions. In particular, the opportunity to focus on vulnerable groups that are often left behind in times of disaster and to examine measures to address them was extremely valuable. 

To scale up the disaster resilience of the most vulnerable and make better proposals in line with local issues, the current Early Warning Systems (EWS), and a sustainable development path, JBP underlines the importance of being in the ground. “Being able to actually see, touch and feel the local situation, shake hands and empathize in person, would takes us a step further on understanding the needs and advancing disaster resilience to the most vulnerable”, mentioned by Satoshi Ariyama, Vice-President, JBP

The event included key stakeholders in the countries, including government officials, UNDP, JICA representatives, the Japanese private sector (JBP member companies), showcasing and discussing the co-identified digital solution(s) to address the challenges and needs of vulnerable groups. Access the event recording here or below.