San Francisco, June 28, 2012 — On July 2 in Sendai, Japan, nearly a year and a half after the tragic earthquake and tsunami devastated the region, The Asia Foundation will participate in Google’s Big Tent: The Role of Technology in Disaster Preparedness and Relief. The one-day forum will bring together leading voices from the worlds of technology, government, and development. Experts from Google, The Asia Foundation, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, ChangeFusion, InSTEDD, NetHope, UNOCHA, and World Vision will explore the ways technology can be put to use to reduce the impact and cost of disasters.
Michelle L. Chang, co-chair of The Asia Foundation’s Technology Working Group will speak on an expert panel on open data governance at the Big Tent. Read Chang’s insights on the Foundation’s work in the June 27 edition of In Asia, an influential blog on significant events shaping Asia.
In addition to the growing role for technology in disaster response, technology is crucial to disaster preparedness. The Asia Foundation has been helping communities strengthen their resilience to natural disasters and the increasing threats from climate change for nearly two decades.
Since 1995, The Asia Foundation has conducted the longest-running disaster management training program in the Pacific Islands. The Pacific Island Nations are prone to some of the world’s worst natural hazards and the small size of these island economies means that the impacts of these disasters are disproportionately high.
In response to the May 2008 earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan, The Asia Foundation supported disaster preparedness and mitigation initiatives in schools and communities, focusing on the most disadvantaged households and villages. The earthquake had a major impact on Chinese government response and preparedness, and, to an unprecedented degree, motivated citizen volunteers and the country’s charity groups to become involved in an extraordinary humanitarian relief effort. As a result, the charity sector in China has become far more prominent today.