According to the Science & Technology Policy Research and Information Center, Taiwanese citizens rank “natural disasters” as one of the five most important issues in Taiwan today. With assistance from the Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and in partnership with the Design and Creative Center Kobe (KIITO), the Taiwan Design Center is building an initiative that rethinks disaster prevention through design. By embedding design into disaster prevention, it will make disaster manuals and exercises more accessible and easy-to-understand, thus improving general citizens’ overall knowledge. By improving general understanding and increasing individual and group exercises, disaster-related casualties will also, hopefully, be reduced as well.
On December 19th, the Taiwan Design Center hosted Taiwan’s first design- and innovation-focused disaster prevention initiative, “OHHHH Disaster Preparedness Workshop”, in partnership with the New Taipei City Government and members of Taiwan’s design community. The Urban Planning Department of Sumida District, Tokyo was also invited, due to their extremely effective assimilation of design into their disaster prevention programs. Kazu Akiyama, in the disaster prevention department, and Hirokaza Nagata, the Associate Director of KIITO, came to Taiwan to discuss how Japan approaches disaster prevention.
▲ Taiwan Design Center initiated Taiwan’s first design- and innovation-focused disaster prevention program.
▲ The forum invited Japanese experts to share their experiences in disaster prevention. The profound and interesting content was well received by the audience.
On December 20th, the Taiwan Design Center partnered with the New Taipei City Government to organize a workshop that brings together disaster prevention and design. The workshop kicked-off with a forum where attendees learned more about embedding design into disaster prevention efforts; afterward, attendees split into groups and got to work. Professionals across disciplines were invited to participate in the workshop, including the New Taipei City Government Fire Department and other disaster prevention personnel, the local borough chief, local citizens, members of disaster prevention departments at national universities, disaster relief NGOs, and over 30 designers passionate about using design to make a difference. This workshop didn’t just emphasize the importance of disaster prevention design in Taiwan, but is also a chance to inspire discussion among participants about the nation’s future development.
Local citizens learned about how to react in face of a natural disaster, including how to save themselves, how to work together with their neighbors and community, and how the government executes rescue missions. They also learned that taking disaster prevention seriously could result in a reduction in their monthly insurance premiums. The disaster relief NGO that attended mentioned that a robust disaster prevention program starts from the ground up—families and individuals need to understand their role.
▲ In the workshsop, participants from different fields brainstormed together.
▲ Professors from the Research Center for Climate and Weather Disasters at Taiwan University started discussions on prevention strategies.
Meanwhile, designers used out-of-the-box methods to convey important information about how to act before, during, and after a natural disaster, and make drills and exercises more interesting. They also discussed how to better prepare individuals and communities to effectively respond in face of a disaster, including teaching people to make the best use of available resources and improving the design of disaster response equipment and supplies. Hopefully, design can improve the effectiveness of disaster management plans and ensure that when natural disasters happen, citizens can safely come out on the other side.
▲ The borough chiefs of New Taipei City and the participating people shared their results of the workshop discussion.
▲ The group photo taken after the forum.
Next year, the Taiwan Design Center will continue to cooperate with the New Taipei City Government in putting forward measures that strengthen disaster management programs with design. Kicking off with communities that already have their own disaster management programs set up, Taiwan Design Center is committed to working with governments around Taiwan to drive the initiative toward integrating design into disaster management programs, in addition to other social innovation initiatives—and bring real improvement to social issues that Taiwanese citizens really care about.
The main focus of the soon-to-be Taiwan Design Institute is to encourage innovative ideas that solve social issues. As President Tsai Ing-Wen announced, Taiwan Design Center will become the Taiwan Design Research Institute, with the central mission of giving “Designed in Taiwan” the same value as “Made in Taiwan” has known for years. The Taiwan Design Research Institute will work across departments to improve public welfare and advance society through design, while also striving to integrate design into the fabric of social services—devoting all their efforts to adding fuel to the fire of social innovation.