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Ricoh’s “Save the Memory Project”: Returning 90,000 Lost Photos from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Recovered photos are displayed (Minamisanriku Town) : Image by Ricoh

Recovered photos are displayed (Minamisanriku Town): Image by Ricoh

“Save the Memory Project” is part of Ricoh’s reconstruction support activities after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 with the aim of returning photos lost and damaged in the tsunami to their owners.

Some photos are damaged by bacteria : Image by Ricoh

Some photos are damaged by bacteria : Image by Ricoh

Photo cleaning line: Image by Ricoh

Photo cleaning line: Image by Ricoh

Photos are being dried: Image by Ricoh

Photos are being dried: Image by Ricoh

Save the Memory Factory Natori: Image by Ricoh

Save the Memory Factory Natori: Image by Ricoh

Since Ricoh manufactures digital copiers, cleanly washed and dried photos were scanned using multifunction products (MFPs) – digital copiers – and converted to digital images.

Photos are scanned by Ricoh's multifunction copier: Image by Ricoh

Photos are scanned by Ricoh’s multifunction copier: Image by Ricoh

  • The color image scanner of the digital copiers can read image data at extremely fast speeds, and this made it possible to achieve a high level of operability.
  • Digital copiers can support a maximum image size of A3, so even large photos could be scanned.
  • The network function of the digital copiers was used to easily transfer scanned image data to a personal computer via a local area network.
    = “Scan to Folder” function
  • A function was established to enable a simultaneous printout of the “photo control number (unique ID number)” as the photo was scanned.
    More specifically, PC script (a simple program) was used to issue a control number for the image data that was forwarded to a PC as well as a print instruction.
    (Each original photo was stored with the printout of its control number.)

Many photos lost and damaged in the tsunami are valuable properties irreplaceable memory in lives of people affected by the earthquake. We collected and cleaned more than 400,000 photos. MFPs were used to digitize and store photos on the cloud, so that people can search easily. Searches were carried out on computers at local government photo centers resulting almost 90,000 of these photos have been returned to their owners.

http://www.ricoh.com/csr/savethememory/

Image data before trimming edges: Image by Ricoh

Image data before trimming edges: Image by Ricoh

The data for over 400,000 images is stored by the cloud storage service “quanp” provided by Ricoh. The photo image data was uploaded altogether using quanp file management application software.
*The quanp service has now ended.

ID numbers are printed on labels and packed together with photos: Image by Ricoh

ID numbers are printed on labels and packed together with photos: Image by Ricoh

Photos that had been uploaded to the database were then packaged in cardboard boxes and returned to the Photo Centers at the disaster sites.

People are searching on PC for their photos (Onagawa Town): Image by Ricoh

People are searching on PC for their photos (Onagawa Town): Image by Ricoh

Lost photos are found: Image by Ricoh

Lost photos are found: Image by Ricoh

Web-based photo searching service – savethememory.jp – allowed disaster victims to search for photos at the Photo Center using computers.

Recovered photos are displayed (Watari Town): Image by Ricoh

Recovered photos are displayed (Watari Town): Image by Ricoh

In an ideal world, there would be no need to use this expertise again, in the wake of a similar disaster. In the event that such a disaster does occur however, Ricoh is keen to share its expertise as widely as possible in order to be of assistance. With this concept, procedure of returning photos and notes by staffs involved in the project will be made available to the public on website from March 9. Needless to say, Ricoh is happy if this information is used for other purposes too, not just in the event of a disaster.

NEWS RELEASE

Returning 90,000 lost photos from the 311 earthquake

Sharing the technologies behind the project

TOKYO, March 9, 2015 — Ricoh today announced that it has successfully returned almost 90,000 photos through its “Save the Memory Project”, which it has been carrying out as part of its reconstruction support activities after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami since August 2011, with the aim of returning photos lost and damaged in the tsunami to their owners.

Project involves collecting precious photos found in the disaster-affected area and cleaning them, with the help of local government and countless volunteers, and then using MFPs to digitize and store photos on the cloud so that people can search easily. Searches can be carried out on computers at local government photo centers. Once someone has found a photo, the original and all associated data is returned to them via the relevant local government. In total, there are over 400,000 digitized photos on file. In the four years since the earthquake and accompanying tsunami, almost 90,000 of these photos have been returned to their owners through photo centers in five locations.

The driving force behind returning photos has been the determination of people affected by the earthquake and tsunami to retrieve valuable properties, irreplaceable photos, to their owners. Through these activities, Ricoh has built up considerable expertise in terms of using its resources, organizational capabilities, technology and facilities, to make a difference in collaboration with local government. In an ideal world, there would be no need to use this expertise again, in the wake of a similar disaster. In the event that such a disaster does occur however, Ricoh is keen to share its expertise as widely as possible in order to be of assistance. With this concept, procedure of returning photos and notes by staffs involved in the project will be made available to the public on website from March 9. Needless to say, Ricoh is happy if this information is used for other purposes too, not just in the event of a disaster.

– Areas Rikuzentakata (Iwate prefecture), Minamisanriku, Onagawa* and Watari (Miyagi prefecture), Minamisoma (Fukushima prefecture)

*Photo center only in Onagawa, operation until March 11, 2015

– Digitized photos 418,721
– Returned photos 90,128 (as of March 9, 2015)
Total rate of returned photos from all five photo centers: 21.5%
(Highest rate of returned photos at a single center: 58.8%)
– Volunteers 518 employees from 17 Ricoh Group companies Employees are taking part in activities, including cleaning and digitizing photos, in between their work hours, making the most of specialist fields at each company and open spaces in offices.

Ricoh continues to carry out recovery support in the disaster-affected area on other fronts too. Activities include providing support for hands-on programs at elementary schools and events in Higashi Matsushima via the Ricoh Science Caravan “Try to be a copier machine!”; helping to rebuild the fishing industry in Minamisanriku (Miyagi prefecture) by getting around 200 new employees involved every year as part of their training; organizing events showcasing produce from the Tohoku region at group company offices; taking part in the Japan Association of Corporate Executives’ “IPPO IPPO NIPPON” project; and making ongoing donations via Ricoh’s Social Contribution Club “FreeWill,” an employee-led endeavor. The Ricoh Group will keep thinking about ways in which it can help, as it continues to make a broad contribution to the development of a more sustainable society, in the hope of rebuilding and reconstructing industry in the disaster-affected area.

For more information, visit www.ricoh.com/csr/savethememory.

| About Ricoh |

Ricoh is a global technology company specializing in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2014, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,195 billion yen based on the IFRS accounting standard (approx. 21.3 billion USD).

The majority of the company’s revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialized industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.

Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees.

For further information, please visit www.ricoh.com/about/


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