Monday, 14 March 2011

Earthquake/tsunami graphics

Let this post not diminish the real problems in the truly effected zone. As I said, in my last post, a design blog might as well not exist while a trauma of this extent is happening.

I write this as I'm back working – which I wasn't sure would happen much today since rolling power outages are planned around Tokyo. This morning's was cancelled. This evening's might still go ahead. (Homes, offices, shops, traffic lights: all could be out.) Also as I write this another tremor hits – more than 30 quakes since the big one have been over magnitude 6.

But life in Tokyo, while disrupted, goes on. Much of the weekend was spent watching television, for news and updates from the devastation further north. Japanese TV goes into rehearsed emergency mode, and the screen above shows what we see (on the right of a screen) overlaid the video or studio report. Japanese TV graphics, like for the weather etc, are not renown for design. The tsunami warning is basic and functional, and appears in the bottom right of all channels' broadcasts – constantly while the actual warning is in place. For two whole days the tsunami warning remained in its place. As you can see the whole country was under a warning, with different areas of the coast delineated by different threat-level colour. At the top of the screen there's a report of a further quake (Japanese level 3, with a list of affected towns or areas.) That appears 30 seconds or so after the quake, accompanied by an alert sound. Occasionally – three times while I was watching – the announcers can issue a verbal warning: a quake has occurred somewhere, and there is seconds to warn people further from the quake to avoid falling objects. Fortunately each time, by the time the tremor reached us it had weakened.

It was along weekend of seeing that icon and thinking of the victims.

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