Japan: Two years after Japan”s worst nuclear disaster displaced 21,000 residents of Namie, much of the town remains the same.
The desolation has largely been hidden from public view, behind checkpoints set up to cordon off the government mandated nuclear exclusion zone. But Google is hoping to bring the displaced residents back home – at least virtually – using its street view technology.
The tech giant has begun the process of digitally mapping neighborhoods closest to the nuclear plant, dispatching its street view car to Namie for the first time. With a specialised camera mounted atop its vehicle, Google drove through the empty town, steering around collapsed homes and cracked roads to capture a 360 view of the damage.
The entire process is expected to take several weeks. Google plans to unveil Namie”s street view map in a few months, according to product manager Kei Kawai.
“There”s nothing that compares to actually coming in and seeing [the damage] for yourself,” Kawai said. “But we can at least show what these places are like, to the people who [evacuated] the city, to the world.”
The street view cars have logged more than 27,000 miles, since the triple disasters first struck Japan”s coast two years ago. They were immediately dispatched to areas hardest hit to capture the tsunami”s aftermath.
But the idea to digitally map Namie came from town residents themselves, Kawai said.
Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said his town has yet to begin the process of decontamination. Recovery has not begun. He hoped the Google images would show the world the reality.
“We still have to wear hazmat suits and get government approval, just to go home,” he said. “How can we even begin to rebuild under circumstances such as that.”
More than half of Namie”s residents have relocated to other cities in the Fukushima prefecture. Baba now works out of a temporary city hall set up in the city of Nihonmatsu, roughly 40 miles away.
Source: ABC News