Beyond business: Leveraging people, processes and technology for charity

by Joyce Ouellette

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When it comes to major document restoration and migration projects, key concerns often include cost management and return on investment. Sometimes, though, a project goes beyond those issues. Ricoh’s ‘Save the Memory Project’ was such a project, which was launched as part of its reconstruction support activities, to restore and return nearly 90,000 photos lost and damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011.

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 photos on the cloud so that people can search easily. 518 employees from 17 Ricoh Group companies volunteered to take part in activities, including cleaning and digitising photos, in between their work hours, making the most of specialist fields at each company and open spaces in offices.

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

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and accompanying tsunami, almost 90,000 of these photos have been returned to their owners through photo centeres 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, procedure of returning photos and notes by staffs involved in the project has been 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.

You can find out more about the “Save the Memory Project” by reading some of the coverage the project has received.

Hufflington Post: How 90,000 lost, damaged photos were restored and returned to victims of 2011 Japan tsunami

Imaging Channel: Ricoh, MFPs Help ‘Save the Memory’ for Victims of Japanese Disaster

Wall Street Journal:  Salvage Operation Returns 90,000 Photos Lost in 3/11 Quake

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