From Japan — Urgent Request for Information

Today I attended the design symposium of the Zurich University of the Arts as I will be supporting the students during a four week course about the future of magazines on the tablet. During this event, we received an urgent request from the Institute for Information Design Japan. Due to the urgency of the situation we incorporated the call for entries in our planned lecture and I wanted to share it here with you, too.

The Institute for Information Design Japan asks for your help to collect and/or produce visualizations that could help the people in Japan in understanding and assessing what is going on, providing references for personal judgments. The situation we experience requires us to make decisions, some of which do have a fundamental impact on the lives we have lived so far.

These are our most urgent questions:

  • What do the various measure-units used in news updates mean?
  • How do they relate to each other? ex: measures of Sievert/year, milliSievert/hour, microSievert/hour are used throughout – sometimes the per/time identifier is missing.
  • Can one apply simple math to convert from one to the other?
  • How do they relate to other measures such as nGy/h?
  • How do they relate to a reasonable scale of everyday experience?
  • Can we identify ONE normalized measure that would help to put numbers in context?
  • What are the radiation levels – at any part of the country?
  • We do not have access to MAPS of current levels – some of the official maps simply omit locations of most concern…
  • What are the expected levels?
  • Forecasts, which take into account not only wind speed/direction but also altitude levels of air-mass movements, precipitations…and the impact of each of these factors on the ground?
  • What are the options to act/move?
  • Visualizations of advisories concerning direct/indirect exposure to radiation and food intake.

We know that we are asking a lot – but we are sure that some of you are able to distill essential data out of the many sources and translate these into meaningful and usable communications.

We are planning to publish the returns of this call on a dedicated site but also to send them to news outlets here in Japan hoping they would share them with the large audiences desperate for help.

The visualizations should speak for themselves, please use as little textual information as possible – always keep in mind that the audience speaks JAPANESE. If you have access to native speakers, ask for their help.

I wanted to help spread the request by IIDj to our readers to motivate information design practitioners to put their skills to good use and help the Japanese people make sense of the available data.

Please submit your presentations as editable PDF files – that will help IIDj to do the necessary translations.

In your return include the following data:
Your name
Your affiliation (if any)
The source(s) of the data used
A waiver confirming your agreement to the free distribution and usage of your submission

Institute for Information Design Japan
Tokyo 103-0012
Chuo Ku, Nihonbashi
Horidome Cho 1.2.9

Please contact japan (at) iidj (dot) net

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