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MEXT And NSF Statement On Big Data And Disaster Research Collaboration From NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh And MEXT Minister Mr. Hirofumi Hirano

June 11, 2012

The catastrophic consequences of natural and human disasters have been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years, most notably in the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster but also in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hurricane Katrina, and regional droughts, floods and fires. These events clearly demonstrate the urgent need for basic research to advance fundamental knowledge and innovation for disaster prevention, mitigation and management. The big data revolution holds the potential to mitigate the effects of these events by enabling access to critical real time information.

We met in Tokyo on June 5, and agreed that U.S.-Japan collaboration in disaster research would yield important mutual advantages, leveraging our respective experiences and expertise to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience in our societies. We agreed in principle to support broad-based research collaborations among computer scientists, engineers, social scientists, biologists, geoscientists, physical scientists and mathematicians that strengthen our understanding of disaster robustness and resilience through big data.

Among the topics we agreed had potential for research collaboration are:

Harnessing the big data generated by disasters to advance analytic, modeling, and computational capabilities, with applications such as probabilistic hazard models.
Improving the resilience and responsiveness of information technology to enable real time data sensing, visualization, analysis, experimentation and prediction, critical for time-sensitive decision making.
Advancing fundamental knowledge and innovation for resilient and sustainable civil infrastructure and distributed infrastructure networks.
Acquiring big data and improving broad knowledge of preparedness and response at human, societal and global scales, including the human, social, economic and environmental dimensions.
Integrating expertise from multiple disciplines, input from end users and big data from all sources in the emergency preparedness and response community.

We agreed to develop a plan of action at the working level, with the aim of announcing a more detailed agreement before the end of 2012.

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