Merely two months ago in July a catastrophic rainstorm broke out in Western Japan, causing many casualties, and I reflected on a city’s resilience against such extreme climate events. Last week Japan was again struck by two devastating hazards, the supertyphoon Jebi and the deadly earthquake in Hokkaido.
Jebi has been the worst typhoon striking Japan in 25 years, leaving so far 11 dead and causing imponderable economic damage, particularly to tourism. Osaka and neighbouring cities bore the brunt of the storm and the Kansai airport was closed indefinitely because of the flood. Just the same week Hokkaido experienced a 6.7-magnitude earthquake, which killed 44 and cut energy access to 5.3 million residents on the island.
The typhoon and earthquake struck Japan unpredictably, leaving residents suffering and tourists stranded in Osaka. Despite the innovative technologies we have at hand, we cannot predict all climate events and natural hazards. And when one breaks out, we are caught off guard, just like this time. And life is just as unpredictable. We never know what life has in store for us. So we should live in the moment, and enjoy.
Recently a heavy rainstorm broke out in Western Japan, bringing serious landslides and flooding, resulting in one of the worst climate disasters in decades. While it is vital to carry out remedial measures, preventive ones are just as critical. This caused me to reflect on a city’s resilience to climate change and how a city can be smartened up against sudden climate catastrophes.
A smart city can be the key to boosting up a city’s resilience against natural hazards. A smart city is one that adopts information and communication technology (ICT) for a better management of urban resources to achieve a higher quality of life and work efficiency. If a city is smart enough, it should be resilient to sudden climate disasters and emergencies. For example, Internet of Things (IoTs) sensors and big data analysis can be adopted to establish monitoring and alarm systems against many types of climate hazards, like earthquakes, flooding, storms, etc. Such an alarm system can be adopted in the form of a mobile app, to be easily and widely accessible to the public. Emergency navigation can be provided on the same system to guide people to safe places as well.
While it is important to build a city’s climate resilience, it is essential to make the city eco-friendly to cut down carbon emissions to fight against climate change in the first place. Copenhagen for instance, set a role model in transiting to a zero carbon economy by implementing a climate plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. This shows that a smart city does not simply folster climate resilience but can even combat climate change!
Hopefully in the future technologies and innovations can be adopted to solve many more urban problems and make life happier.
智慧城市以資訊及通訊科技（Information and Communications Technology）來管理城市和城市資源，以提高生活質素和工作效率。建立智慧城市同時有助增強城市抵禦氣候變化的能力。一個有足夠「智慧」的智慧城市足以抵抗突發的氣候災禍和緊急狀況，例如，利用物聯網（Internet of Things）感測器和大數據（Big Data）分析技術針對各類氣候災害如地震、水浸、風災等建立監察和警報系統，以手機程式的形式供大眾使用。系統亦可包括緊急路線導航的功能來引導民眾疏散至安全地方。
Climate change becomes a popular reason in my friend circles when it comes to unpredictable weather situation.
I was about to leave for the conference in Macau this morning, chairing a session related to smart city development. Just before I had my feet out of the door I realised that today’s conference was called off due to the hoisting of typhoon signal numbered 8 (which I was told as unusual.). Fortunately, we grabbed the chance yesterday to meet with overseas visitors. Otherwise, we could have wasted this wonderful opportunity to learn from them.
Anyhow, I managed to spend time with my local friends to catch up and relax a bit Mandarin Oriental Macau. With still a question in mind though, why would it be No.8 when it was fairly calm and there was almost no rain!?