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The Faces of Those Affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

the three-dimensional terrain of Google Earth, and the testimony of the victim who survived the tsunami disaster, a photo that is collected from immediately after the disaster.

Screenshot of Project Aceh Tsunami Archive. The project page allows users to view the three-dimensional terrain of Google Earth overlayed with stories of people who survived the tsunami disaster as well as photos collected from immediately after the disaster.

[All links lead to Japanese-language webpages unless otherwise noted.]

A group of researchers in Japan in cooperation with the Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center of Syiah Kuala University in Indonesia have used Google Maps to publish an extensive digital archive of stories and images of people in the Indonesian province of Aceh, one of the areas hardest hit by the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami [en].

Project Aceh Tsunami Archive was developed by three professors, Hidenori Watanave, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, and Yoshimi Nishi, and their students to digitally archive the stories of Aceh's damage and recovery toward a brighter future.

Hiroyuki Yamamoto shared his hope that there is something everyone can learn from the disaster recovery process:

被災から復興への過程は人類共通の財産です。その過程そのものが他の被災地域にとっても大変参考になる資料ですし、被災地域以外にとっても教育・防災で参考になる点が多くあります。この点で、復興に向けて町が変化すること自体が記録すべきものだと考えます。モニュメントとして一部の象徴的な爪跡などを残す動きはありますが、復興の過程で被災の面影が全く感じられなくなるほど変化するエリアもあります。私たちが継続的に定点調査し、日々の変化を記録しているアチェ津波モバイル博物館のデータをもとに、一般の人に使いやすくデザインされたアチェ津波アーカイブにより、被災地の内と外が繋がり、アチェの経験が人類共通の財産となることを期待します。

The process of recovery from the disaster has universal interest. It serves as a reference which will be very helpful for other affected areas, as well as helpful in disaster prevention education outside the affected area. In this regard, we believe that the changes in the region towards recovery should be recorded. Even though there is a movement to preserve damage as a monument, some areas undergo such drastic changes during reconstruction that no damage from the disaster can be traced. I have been researching the regions on a regular basis along with the data sets from Aceh Tsunami Mobile Museum. I hope that our usefully designed interface for the Aceh Tsunami Archive will help connect the people inside and outside of the affected region, and that the experience of Aceh will be shared as common property of mankind. 

Users have the option to select what information appears on the map, such as stories, photos, and aiding countries. By clicking the round photos of people, users can read the story of disaster victims in both Indonesian and Japanese. These stories of survivors were originally compiled and published by Badan Arsip Provinsi Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, the library branch of the National Archives of Indonesia in Aceh, and will be updated more in the near future as more of the text is translated into Japanese.

Screenshot of Aceh Tsunami Archive

Screenshot of the Aceh Tsunami Archive showcasing the story of Intan Mayasari, survivor of the disaster who quickly ran out of the house after the earthquake. 

Project Aceh Tsunami Archive is a counterpart to the already published East Japan Earthquake Archive [ja], so both sets of information can be viewed on a single globe integrated in Google map.

Hidenori Watanave, who has worked on a series of digital archive projects including the aforementioned archives as well as the Tuvalu Visualization Project [en], Nagasaki [atomic bomb] Archive, Hiroshima Archive, and Peace Learning Archive in Okinawawrote:

現地の学生たちは、口を揃えて「津波の記憶が薄れつつある」と話していました。このことには、日本とインドネシアの国民性の違いもあらわれているかも知れません。しかし学生たちは、未来に記憶をつなぐ研究活動を精力的に続けています。また、被災遺構である発電船や、打ち上げられた船の周りに集って遊ぶ子どもたちなど、津波の記憶が「日常」のなかに定着しつつある例も見受けられました。こうしたバンダアチェの被災状況、そして現状を知ることは、日本の将来を考える手がかりとなるかも知れません。

The students in Aceh unanimously said that the memories of the tsunami are fading away. That's something different from Japanese counterpart victims, which may reflect the different characteristic of each nationality. Yet these students are working hard so that their experience will be preserved for the future. We have also seen children playing around the powership and the stranded ship, which are remnants of the tsunami. These scenes are example of memories of the tsunami staying in everyday life, and knowing the condition of the effects and aftermath of the disaster may give clues to how we think about the future of Japan.

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