Project 311: Analyzing Media Coverage of Japan’s 311 Earthquake


There’s an interesting piece over on the Emergency Journalism website about Project 311, which was a sort of ‘Big Data Workshop’ organized by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Twitter Japan back in September and October. The initiative brought together data sets about both traditional and new media from around the time of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, and made it available for people to experiment with and analyze.

One person who got involved in the workshop was Hidenori Watanabe, who we have mentioned before on this site for his impressive visualization work on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki archives projects, as well as his East Japan Earthquake archive which presented photos and victims testimonials in a Google Earth view. What he created this time, using data from companies like NHK and The Asahi Shimbun, as well as data from Twitter, is an East Japan Earthquake Media coverage map, which you can now find at

The map provides controls to display certain data, and it’s really interesting to compare how broadcast television compares to, say, the geo-coded Tweets marked in green around the country. There’s a time element as well which spans from March 11 to the 19, which scrubs through the eight days and animates the reports as they occurred on the map. Hidonori notes that in some places there was no news coverage, but there were some important tweets found (see below).

According to the report, NHK is said to be making use of the data as well to try to understand how to improve their disaster coverage. That’s definitely encouraging, but I think that this project could be taken even further if the companies involved continued to make their data available beyond the workshop (if I understand correctly, it is no longer public), so that others could build upon the work that has already been done.

There was no news broadcasted about Kamisu, but there were some tweets that shared important information, like this one about the state of a local factory.

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