Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.24
Visualization of environmental disaster! Joint research of IoT measuring techniques
Report from the University of Electro-Communications
The University of Electro-Communications invited four students and three faculty members from Pulau Bangka, Indonesia for 11 days from October 8th, 2018 to October 18th, 2018. On the first day, they met Takashi Fukuda, the President of the university, and exchanged ideas on the environmental issues in Pulau Bangka.
Pulau Bangka is known as one of the world’s leaders in the production of tin, most of which is used as raw material for solder. It is closely related to our everyday lives. In the tin mine of the island, the nearby soil has very high emissions of radiation, because natural radioactive materials such as uranium and thorium are also found there.
Our laboratories have been providing inexpensive radiation measurement technology (using smartphones) and field work for education and skills development for improvement of radiation literacy of the workers as well as local residents in collaboration with the local bureau of mines. Federico Tajariol Associate Professor of Centre de Linguistique Appliquée Université de Franche Comté (France), who has been a supporter, also participated in the joint research, and actively exchanged ideas on how to implement risk communication for the public. Four Indonesian international students from our university also participated and exchanged ideas.
From the following five points of view, both the Japanese side and the local Indonesian side gained very positive outcomes:
1. Research interchange
With a collaboration of the students and researchers of Pulau Bangka who have been facing a big environmental problem of radiation contamination in the area of the mine, we have achieved technological exchange by producing a prototype and conducting a short term hackathon, which is a combination of radiation measurement technology and IoT technology (embedded, wireless communication, and cloud) designed by the University of Electro-Communications. We are happy to be able to make a contribution to the development of future joint research, because they can continue to perform verification tests on their home island by taking the sensors back to the sites after completing this program.
2. Business-academia collaboration
The participants visited an electronic equipment manufacturer (in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture), and actually watched how they manufacture things and discussed with the developers the usage of tin (RoHS compliant high performance solder) produced in Pulau Bangka. After observing the manufacturing site in Japan, they seemed motivated to work in Japan in the future. The workers at the manufacturing plant also were stimulated by the visitors from overseas, and that triggered them to become more aware of the traceability of the materials (solder) they handle and of environmental protection measures.
3. Visiting disaster-affected region
They participated in a tour organized by a nongovernmental organization (NGO) visiting the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant area, and discussed with the tour guide what is needed for the reconstruction (technology, cooperation, information, expertise and administrative roles). They were able to see the actual conditions impacted by the disaster within a close range of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and also visited J-Village as well as the newly built thermal power plant. They gained a practical sense of the importance of issues involved with energy production. The tour guide saw visitors from Indonesia for the first time, and did not know that, in Indonesia, there is radiation as high as in Fukushima. This tour was very rewarding from the aspect of people getting to know each other. They seemed to have a realistic sense of what has been going on in Fukushima, because there are plans to build a coal fired power plant and a thorium power plant in Pulau Bangka.
4. Academic exchange at multipe hubs
The participants visited our collaborators (Professor Uchida of Tokai University, and Associate Professor Matsuno of Nihon University) together with Associate Professor Federico and held a joint research seminar. They participated in a case study of the latest disaster prevention research in Japan and conducted research discussions with Japanese researchers and students. Visiting three academic institutions gave them a sense that each institution has its own characteristics. This experience was particularly valuable for students who are considering studying abroad in the master’s program. At the same time, it was very good stimulation for the Japanese students to talk to the students from Indonesia and to give presentations in English for the first time. Since Indonesia was just attacked by a big earthquake and tsunami, the students actively participated in the discussion about the research on the disaster situation in Indonesia, disaster prevention support system, and issues surrounding fake news.
5. Establishment of international cooperation
The participants visited the Dean of Nihon University, had discussions with him, and gained understanding of the importance of the activities having to do with the environment. Moreover, we built a relationship of mutual trust as a result of this interaction, and this has lead to an agreement to apply jointly to the JICA project (grassroots support). This was a big development in the promotion of international collaborative research. This exchange program was covered by Bangka Post, the local newspaper of Pulau Bangka, with big featured articles that included photos drawing attention to the region as well. This program was also posted on the offical web sites of the University of Electro-Communications, and Tokai University where they paid a visit as well, contributing to promotion and advancement of international exchange.