Dezeen Magazine

Yuta Takahashi's Tsunami App warns users of potential disasters

Japanese designer Yuta Takahashi has proposed a smartphone app that would provide information and warnings about tsunamis, which could save lives during events like the devastating Tōhoku earthquake five years ago (+ slideshow).


Takahashi's Tsunami App would use data from the Japan Meteorological Agency to warn people of tsunami danger when an earthquake hits.

Tsunamis occur when a shift in the Earth's crust displaces the surrounding water, forming large waves that can cause widespread damage when they crash on land.

Tsunami App by Yuta Takahashi

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake – known as the Tōhoku earthquake or the Great East Japan Earthquake – struck off the coast of Japan on Friday 11 March 2011, five years ago today.

The quake was the most powerful in the country's history, and the resulting tsunami killed over 15,000 people and caused devastation along the coastline.

Tsunami App by Yuta Takahashi

Takahashi hopes that the app could help speed up evacuation in an emergency and minimise the number of casualties if a similar event occurred again.

"According to results of a tsunami study by Wearhernews, two minutes is the mean average for determining life and death at the start of evacuation," said Takahashi.

"For the announcement of tsunami danger during an emergency, it is important that evacuation be called for at the earliest moment," he said. "For this reason we are proposing the Tsunami App. We want to work to save as many lives as possible in the event of a disaster."

Tsunami App by Yuta Takahashi

The app would use a smartphone's built-in global positioning system (GPS) to calculate the user's current location.

Paired with the seismic data gathered from the meteorological agency, it would predict the height of the tsunami wave at the location and send warnings of the danger until the tsunami hit.

Tsunami App by Yuta Takahashi

Simple graphics would display a five-tier number system, three colours, and three indicators to provide warning information.

The warnings range from an low-level advisory indicating that a tsunami risk has been detected, through to a major tsunami warning.

After the 2011 earthquake, many architects and designers joined the Help Japan campaign to raise money for the rebuilding effort. In the years that followed, Nendo designed a minimal emergency kit filled with supplies and a fan-shaped memorial for the victims by Koishikawa Architects was opened.

Photography is by Yuta Kuwahara.