Idea Worth Copying: Japan's Theme-Park-Style Disaster Preparation Centers
Sandi Doughton reports:
Guided by the philosophy that experience is the best teacher, Japan wants its citizens to know what it will feel like when the ground under their feet starts to heave — and how to protect themselves. So cities across the country have constructed disaster education centers that combine theme-park-style simulations with sober lessons in survival.
Many of the more than 60 centers feature large shake tables where visitors can ride out fake quakes as powerful as the real thing. In some centers, visitors navigate life-size dioramas of crushed cars and teetering power poles while being quizzed on the best response to dangerous situations. Typhoons, floods and fires get hands-on treatment as well.
Doughton's coverage not only explains the methods and impact of the Japanese centers, but also catches up on plans to bring a similar center to the Seattle area. After the Seattle City Council commissioned a study of the Japanese centers in 2007, a "proposal emerged to build a facility at Seattle Center in conjunction with the Pacific Science Center." The recession derailed those plans, but advocates are still working to make that vision a reality in the area.