Ricoh returns over 90 000 lost photos to their owners following 2011 earthquake

Ricoh 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. The 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 digitise and store the photos on the cloud so that people can easily search them. Searches can be carried out on computers at local government photo centres. 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 digitised 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 centres 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, organisational 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, the procedure of returning photos and notes by employees involved in the project has been made available to the public on the website from 9 March. Needless to say, Ricoh is happy if this information is used for other purposes too, not just in the event of a disaster. The operation has so far digitised 418 721 photos based on the efforts of 518 volunteer employees from 17 Ricoh group companies. Volunteers cleaned and digitised photos between work hours using the talents of specialists from Ricoh and using open spaces in existing offices. Ricoh continues to carry out recovery support in the disaster-affected area on other fronts too. Activities include providing support for hands-on programmes 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 in the Miyagi prefecture by getting around 200 new employees involved every year as part of their training; organising 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 on-going donations via Ricoh’s Social Contribution Club: FreeWill, an employee-led endeavour. The Ricoh Group will continue to explore 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.