1. CITYNET-PLUS ARTS HOSTS DISASTER PREPAREDNESS STUDY VISIT
From September 4 to 6, the CityNet-Plus Arts Kobe office hosted a study visit focused on local disaster preparedness measures and initiatives for a delegation comprising representatives from Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), CityNet Yokohama Project Office, and members of the CityNet Secretariat management team.
During the 3-day program, participants were introduced to various stakeholders involved in disaster preparedness work through tours of two educational facilities, the Sakai City General Disaster Prevention Center and the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI), along with information sessions with the Kobe City Crisis Management Office and Plus Arts. These organizations exemplify the distinct yet collaborative roles played by government agencies, NPOs, and private sector actors in disaster risk reduction, including disaster prevention education, and demonstrate the unique competencies and resiliency developed by a society that is critically impacted by natural disasters.
The study visit served as a benchmarking activity for the SMG delegates and provided a valuable opportunity for exchanging best practices and discussing disaster prevention solutions and challenges within the different local contexts of Seoul and Kobe.
Due to its susceptibility to natural hazards and experience of past tragedies like the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the city of Kobe has emerged at the forefront of disaster prevention education. CityNet-Plus Arts aims to further develop and improve this study visit program to promote effective knowledge-sharing among the CityNet network.
2. KOBE CITY CRISIS MANAGEMENT
A highlight of the study visit was a presentation by Kobe City’s Crisis Management Office that explained Kobe’s crisis management system and disaster prevention efforts, including flood countermeasures and public awareness-building.
Since its establishment in 2012, the Crisis Management Center (CMC) has expanded to 54 staff members with the increasing role of the crisis management department in public safety governance. In emergencies, the CMC will function as Kobe’s disaster response headquarters. The presentation outlined the CMC’s emergency response procedure, including detailed plans of staff deployment and lines of communication; evacuation criteria and protocols; emergency shelter operations; and city stockpile management.
A key lesson from the Great Hanshin Earthquake is the necessity of citizens’ capacity for self-help and mutual assistance during the initial stages of an emergency when government support is limited or unavailable. This underscores the importance of disaster prevention awareness and education. The department works to increase public awareness through mechanisms such as the interactive online hazard map; Lifestyle Disaster Prevention Guides (updated and distributed annually to every household); local talk sessions; and disaster prevention expert outreach in higher-risk neighborhoods.
3. CREATIVITY IN DISASTER PREVENTION
In another session, Plus Arts Chairperson Hirokazu Nagata described his founding philosophy for producing and delivering effective disaster education programs: “+creative” and “incomplete planning” (http://plus-arts.net/corporate/method/)
This concept of disseminating disaster prevention education through creative design and community participation was also evident in the educational facilities that the delegates visited, where practical disaster prevention education is presented in an interactive and memorable way. These learning facilities not only appeal to children and families but are also used for office team building or training activities.
The DRI museum uses a storytelling approach to showcase the memories of and lessons learned from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Through dramatic films, artifact displays, interactive exhibits and demonstrations, visitors gain an appreciation for the impact of the earthquake and a sense of urgency for disaster preparedness, in addition to acquiring scientific and practical disaster and survival knowledge.
Sakai City General Disaster Prevention Center is built on real training grounds of the Sakai City Fire Department and offers free tours and disaster training courses using advanced simulation equipment. Some learning activities are gamified to boost engagement from children. The facility, complete with a stockpile warehouse, is also designed to serve as a base for disaster response during emergencies.
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