The major Finnish telecommunications company's Japan branch, Nokia Solutions and Networks and the City of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in October this year, to offer sophisticated technology to support the region's recovery from the devastating 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. A press conference was held on November 2 at the Embassy of Finland, to introduce this partnership for journalists based in Tokyo.
The press event was opened by the Embassy's Minister-Counsellor Juha Niemi, who in his remarks discussed how Nokia played an important role in developing Finland into the hub for information technology that it is today, on the year we celebrate the 100 years of Finnish independence.
The next speaker, Mr. Yasufumi Shiraiwa, Section Manager at the Industry Promotion Sector of the Economic Affairs Bureau from the City of Sendai, mentioned the three areas the Nokia-Sendai memorandum will be promoting; the use of drones for disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction, creating innovation in Sendai and the Tohoku area through Internet of Things (IOT), and creating businesses through future generation telecommunication technology. While Sendai City also signed a similar memorandum with the Japanese telecommunications company NTT DoCoMo, Mr. Shiraiwa continued, the positive experiences Sendai has had with Nokia and the foreign expertise the company can offer, helped in their decision to co-operate with the company.
The city has a long-standing relationship with Finland, stretching back to 2003 when Sendai and Finland agreed to co-operate in the fields of elderly care, welfare and healthcare. Additionally, Sendai's Industry Promotion Agreement, signed in 2005 with the Finnish city of Oulu – a major hub for the Finnish telecommunications company – helped influence the city's decision to form a new partnership with Nokia.
Director of Nokia Japan Mr. Nishihara Masatoshi mentioned that there are 25 times more natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific than in Europe, and proposed that Nokia's expertise in telecommunication technology can be utilized here. Communications infrastructure can easily break down during disasters, at a time when information flow is crucial. To this end, Nokia seeks to develop disaster-resistant solutions, and as recently as May this year carried out disaster management exercises making use of LTE networks in Finland.
Nokia also presented their new portable LTE-network device, Nokia Ultra Compact Network (UCN) announced this June. It offers not only audio, but video and sensor data to those in the forefront of rescue efforts. "A high-speed data connection can help save more lives," Nokia's Customer Solution Manager for Public Safety, Mr. Kiyoshi Shimokoshi explained, as journalists listened intently to his explanations about the UCN features.