During the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, people who were driving in their cars were unable to receive vital emergency information quickly enough, The Japan Times reports (tinyurl.com/michibiki-save). In preparation for the next catastrophe, the Japanese government is gearing up to send emergency information to drivers through their vehicle navigation systems, using Michibiki satellites. One is pictured, courtesy of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Satellites will work best for vehicle transmissions to an on-the-road public because they are reliable, and wide-ranging, unlike land-based communications, which are often destroyed or disabled during a disaster.
Also on the Japanese government’s to-do list is a safety confirmation system, also using satellites, so people can access a database created by emergency shelters to confirm that family members and friends are safe.
Both systems are expected to start rolling out within a year.