This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.
With the arrival of October, many small-sized Japanese SMEs – especially venture businesses honing in on safety as well as security needs – have been actively showcasing their new products at exhibitions and symposiums in Japan.
From October 12th many small firms supported by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government gathered at Asia’s largest security and safety exposition RISCON – targeting everything from automotive hazards to natural disasters – held alongside the restricted-access [luggage examination and ID/passport required] SEECAT (Special Equipment Exhibition & Conference for Anti-Terrorism) geared towards the more specialized businesses.
The RISCON Tokyo SME Support Center corner and clusters nearby had several eye-catching ventures, running the gamut from Challenge, an earthquake early warning systems producer established by a former Japanese telecoms monopoly engineer, and Port Denshi, an electronics maker now availing handy “checkers” for structural integrity of buildings, to Starlite, a car parts maker unveiling a “floating garage” and Sea Enterprise, a firm offering a Tsunami shelter, among many purveyors of apps/devices to inform of other such hazards.
Challenge is a venture business started up by Mr. Kazuo Sasaki, a former NTT engineer who quit the ICT giant – a rare breed indeed in this “employment-risk-averse” nation still dominated by “public servants.” Mr. Sasaki first started out by producing a “terrorist attack warning system” based on an on-campus communication network but found that more lives could be saved through early earthquake warnings, as he explained at the RISCON stage event.
His company, with assistance from the public corporation backing up the SME Support Center, is already slated to deploy its EQ-Guard II network in Indonesia. According to their tech chief Yamaimaiti Nizhamudong the company already has nearly a dozen languages available for systems announcements and are targeting quake-prone countries in Eurasia as future markets.
Port Denshi is headed by Mr. Katsuhiko Hibino, whose company until recently was mainly focused on producing electronic components until he realized that he could use his products to “sound out” structural flaws in buildings. The electronic “one-stop” tapping system developed by Port Denshi, a typical “Denshi” meaning “electronics” in Japanese, uses a “metal xylophone stick” which enables pinpointing of problems with concrete deterioration upon hitting the surface, and unlike the Schmidt hammer is able to fathom deeper inside the building structure.
In recent years Japan – whose postwar reconstruction results are showing wear and tear – has witnessed a spate of problems related to urban infrastructure. There has also been a marked lowering in workmanship among constructors, perhaps due to a lack of human resources brought on by the sudden building rush of recent years. As an aside the event this year at Big Sight took place alongside Tokyo Aerospace Symposium and a reference to airport buildings in need of periodic checks – like the older Tokyo area ones as well as the sinking one offshore of Osaka – cannot but be stressed.
As it turned out, adjacent to the Tokyo SME area was located Starlite of Osaka, which availed a new type of sturdy garage. The car parts provider, in view of recent flash downpours that have caused floods and swept away communities, decided to attach drum cans underneath a garage clad all around with protective sheathings. It is said to float long enough until water subsides.
As a disaster still fresh in the minds of many Tokyoites there are also the tidal waves that struck the shores north of the metropolis. Several companies were focused on providing schemes to deal with such hazards as well. One of these, Sea Enterprise, looked to disseminate its Tsunami shelter system which provides for longer “riding out” of waterborne disasters.
As for automotive hazards countermeasures we will look in depth on these in the Tokyo Motor Show story to follow soon. In any event it is hoped there will be less cases of major disaster situations, although we need to be prepared well at all times.