Tangible Earth opens new window on risk

Professor Shinichi Takemura demonstrating the Tangible Earth
 
By Andy McElroy

GENEVA, 22 May 2013 - The inventor of the world's first interactive digital globe that graphically depicts the vulnerability of our planet to disasters today challenged global policymakers to show more leadership in tackling the growing risks facing populations worldwide.

"What is important is not the technology but our vision for the future of the planet," said Prof Shinichi Takemura, the inventor of the Tangible Earth as he demonstrated his interactive globe at the 4th Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction and showed how users of tablets and smartphones can now link to an interactive digital version of UNISDR's new Global Assessment Report.

"We are in a time of new ways of communicating about disaster risk reduction. We need to change our mindset to understand more fully the risk we have created for ourselves, such as through the rapid urbanisation of the developing world," he said.

Prof Takemura challenged global leaders to "shift the paradigm from perceiving disasters as an external event and seeking to protect ourselves to a more proactive approach of disaster risk management that includes reducing underlying risk drivers such as poor urban development."

During his demonstration Prof. Takemura, who is Director of the Earth Literacy Program, a partner of the UN Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), showed how 150 million people living on the rapidly developing Chinese coast reside in hazard-prone low-lying plains.

'It's an enormous number, even bigger than the population of the whole of Japan,' Prof Takemura said.

He added that the Tangible Earth was an open platform for policymakers, researchers, and DRR practitioners that could raise awareness, standardise risk datasets, improve assessments and be used as a basis for well-informed risk management initiatives.

The Tangible Earth allows users to view and understand the condition of our planet. It dynamically visualizes scientific data such as earthquake and tsunami-prone zones, climate variations, global warming progression, biodiversity, and more.

Users are able to spin the globe, interact and query the information and zoom in on locations and events of interest.

The globe is linked to the updated global risk and disaster data of the new 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: From Shared Risk to Shared Value (GAR13) as well as case studies and in-depth analyses from the previous two GARs (2009 and 2011).

For instance, users can link to the latest GAR13 data, which predicts estimated annual global losses from earthquakes and cyclonic winds of USD189 billion a year.

Tablet computer and smartphone users can upload the GAR for Tangible Earth (GfT) free application and then point their devices at various icons in the printed GAR13 report, which will link them to enhanced content providing access to dynamic maps, risk scenarios, disaster maps, videos, photos, and case studies.
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