The development of information networks has enabled the widespread use of information bases distributed throughout the world. The Social Information Model Division’s Groups are based around a discussion of the formation of these distributed information bases. Through a study of the creation of working social information systems such as multimedia libraries, the Groups in this Division teach and study information models of today and their possible forms in the future, covering such topics as the problems that information systems cause and their impact on society.
Computer networks have enabled information resources unevenly spread around the world to be integrated and utilized. Today, computer networks covering the world enable us to communicate by various means, regardless of spatial or temporal constraints and this new ability is starting to influence the structure of our society. The use of these kinds of information networks will create new social information systems and contribute to social change on a global scale.
There is a great variety of bioresources in the biospheres of forests, farmlands and seas. These have complex interrelationships and influence our society in many ways. Our division considers the biosphere to be a complex, global system and attempts to gain an overall understanding of the way it functions by using the global network to gather biosphere data that includes information on individual animals, biosphere resources, and production. We discuss and study how human activities are affecting the global environment and society through the production and management of bioresources.
Disasters are abrupt and large-scale environmental changes. The natural, artificial and social environments (especially the balance among them) that have been achieved and maintained by regional communities are forced to change. If the impact of a disaster is strong enough, local communities may be unable to recover the balance they had before the catastrophe, and may be forced to create a new balance. This was demonstrated in a dramatic fashion by the catastrophic damage inflicted by the Great Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake and the subsequent suffering in the stricken area. The objective of disaster prevention is to minimize the effects of disasters. Unfortunately, it is beyond our power to eliminate natural threats, such as the disasters wrought by earthquakes and typhoons. Efforts at disaster prevention help to make society more resistant to disasters by: (1) raising our ability to foresee and predict the threat of natural disasters; (2) raising our ability to keep the damage in check; and (3) minimizing the effects of the damage. Disasters are the greatest obstacle to the sustainable development of humankind. According to figures from the International Red Cross, disasters annually take the lives of 130,000 people and cause $US440 billion in damage. Population growth is driving urbanization. Societies are becoming more complex and diverse. At the same time, disasters are growing in scale and frequency. One could say that society’s ability to withstand disasters is rapidly diminishing. Information processing lies at the heart of disaster prevention. This Division will focus primarily on disaster prevention in urban areas and will teach students about the establishment of information systems designed to achieve “urban disaster reduction” that both minimizes the immediate effects of disasters and prevents their aftermath from lingering for too long a time.