Govt to Use AI to Combat Coastal Erosion from Fiscal 2024; AI to Use Satellite, Drone Images to Aid Disaster Prevention Efforts

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
This photo, taken in early November 2013, shows a construction using huge sandbags to prevent erosion at a section of the Oida coast in Miyazaki City, which is a nesting spot for sea turtles.

With the aim of preventing coastal erosion throughout Japan, the government is set to introduce an observation system that uses artificial intelligence to analyze images taken by satellites and drones starting in fiscal 2024.

The aim is to have prefectural governments that manage the coastline use this system to direct their disaster prevention activities.

AI will automatically pick out the coastline from images, including satellite images owned by private companies and aerial photos taken by drones. The photos are then shown on a monitor with the AI representing the coastline by drawing lines. By sorting the photos chronologically, changes in the coastline can be monitored.

If signs of coastal erosion are detected at an early stage, local governments can take disaster prevention and mitigation measures, such as the construction of breakwaters and wave-dissipating concrete blocks.

The official length of Japan’s coastline is about 35,000 kilometers, the sixth longest in the world. The new observation system would make it possible to monitor the coastline without requiring a lot of manpower.

Since sandy beaches play a role in reducing the force of waves, their preservation is an important measure against high tide waters.

The government intends to start operating the system in some areas in fiscal 2024, aiming to put it into practical use nationwide in fiscal 2026.