A Map for the Future: Measuring Radiation Levels

After the cataclysmic explosion in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, more than 100,000 citizens living within 20km of the nuclear power station were evacuated. These residents were not allowed to return home for more than a year, until April 2012, when the Japanese government began to lift the evacuation order for some areas. As local governments contemplate strategies to revive these communities, a lingering question remains: how safe is it to live here?

Answering this question is difficult for a number of reasons.

At this Cal Poly Science Cafe, we explore the question, “What if we could provide data to allow individuals and communities to make their own assessments?” with Yoh Kawano, the UCLA GIS Coordinator.

The Radioisotope Center (RC) in Niigata University has built a vehicle-mounted radiation monitoring system consisting of a real-time GPS receiver, a dosimeter, and a laptop. This tool allows government officials in the affected municipalities to continuously measure airborne radiation levels. RC has partnered with the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE) from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to develop a public web-based interface to this data to inform citizens about radiation levels in their communities. Both of these tools enable gathering and making data available to the general public more easily, and allow the public to make informed decisions about the safety of the decontaminated zones in the absence of widely-accepted standards.

Yoh will bring the radiation monitoring system to Cal Poly for us to check out. Offered in partnership with the Data Studio.

More about Yoh Kawano

Yoh Kawano came to Los Angeles and UCLA in 1995 after living across the globe, in 5 different countries. At UCLA he works at the GIS and Visualization Sandbox for the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE), serving as the Campus GIS Coordinator while holding lecturer positions in the School of Public Affairs and the Center for Digital Humanities. He has supervised projects in urban planning, emergency preparedness, disaster relief, volunteerism, archaeology, and the digital humanities. Current research and projects involve the geo-spatial web, visualization of temporal and spatial data, and creating systems that leverage social media and web services in conjunction with traditional information systems.

Read more about Yoh and this project in UCLAToday and UCLA Magazine.

Check out Venturing Inside the Nuclear Evacuation Zone on his blog, The Urban Nomad.

Watch a video of his TEDxUCLA presentation, Can Twitter Save Lives?

top