Japan Earthquake Alert App Says Sayonara to X

Japan Earthquake Alert App Says Sayonara to X

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NERV app
Picture: Canva
Many people in Japan depend on the NERV service for earthquake alerts. Unfortunately, they'll no longer be able to receive them on X. Here's why the NERV app is parting ways with the platform.

Japan’s best safety app for natural disasters will withdraw from X (formerly Twitter). 1.9M followers have relied on the app NERV for live information about real-time natural disasters and weather reports. Now, this life-saving information will begin its fadeout from the social media platform.

An important lifeline

The Japanese IT service management company Gehirn Web Services made the announcement on August 7th. The company said it will no longer post information regarding power outages and evacuation measures on its official account on X, citing harsh API constraints.

Gehirn owns and manages the NERV Disaster Prevention App (called Tokumu-Kikan-NERV (特務機関NERV in Japanese). NERV swiftly distributes the company’s analysis of real-time earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and weather information.

The app instantly gained recognition from the government’s Japan Meteorological Agency when Gehirn released it in 2019.

The speed of delivery is what distinguishes NERV from other distributors. NERV is “10 seconds or more faster than breaking news on TV,” say experts. NERV retrieves data from real-time earthquakes, analyzes it, and posts information in just 0.3 seconds. The media has praised NERV, saying that “there is no app that delivers such information as quickly and accurately.”

Monday’s post on the official X account for NERV shared Gehirn’s plans to discontinue its use of X. The same post stated that the company will share future NERV content on its app and on Mastodon.  


An expensive API

Picture: gttkscg / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

By 9 PM on Monday night, NERV users were demanding answers to the questions raised by Gehirn’s decision. NERV responded to two questions.

Why not use other social media platforms?

“We are moving forward under the premise that our operations should move from platforms managed by other companies to those within our control. Our app of course works on Apple and Google but these are different in terms of API constraints. On the other hand, distribution on ActivityPub is where we can manage our content completely independently. For this reason, in response to requests to move our operations onto different platforms will eventually only result in the same outcome as this time and therefore will not be considered. As NERV posts are still accessible via social media linked with ActivityPub, we plan to continue sharing there.”

What is the situation with X’s API plan?

Currently, we subscribe to the API’s “Basic plan”. With the Basic plan, we are granted 100 posts per 24 hours for the cost of $100 (under current rates this amounts to for the cost of $100 (under current rates this amounts to for the cost of $100 (under current rates this amounts to ¥14,236). The plan above this is the “Pro plan” which costs $5,000 (¥711,715) per month. Our operations run with a budget spent on various studies and development projects.

This month, we find ourselves in the red by n the red by ¥6,000,000 which can hardly qualify as a good financial situation as we continue with our operations. If we upgrade to the Pro plan, we will incur a cost of over ¥8,540,000 per year. We have decided that if we were to spend over ¥700,000 per month that it would be better if this money could go to developing our NERV app and strengthening our ActivityPub servers instead of X’s API. Therefore, we are beginning to cut down on our posts on X.

Repercussions for other Japanese services

NERV’s issues with X’s API constraints began earlier this month on August 1st when it announced that it was “unable to automatically publish posts due to API constraints.”

Gehirn is not alone in its recent concerns over X’s API constraints. The Japanese website Togetter which specializes in processing viral Tweets experienced glitches with X’s API too when X demoted its plan to the “Free plan.”

As for now, the NERV account on X is still posting real-time updates every few hours on weather patterns as well as passing typhoons in Japan.

NERV’s origins

The name NERV comes from the Japanese anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, of which the app’s founder is a huge fan.

Ishimori Daiki created the first account for NERV in 2010 while he was still a student at Tsukuba University in Japan. NERV was a hobby to him. A hobby that had just 300 followers.

But then, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami happened in 2011. The home Ishimori had grown up in was destroyed. He lost his aunt. Ever since, Ishimori has poured all of his energy into improving the distribution of information for natural disasters.

When Ishimori’s company Gehirn released the NERV app in 2019, there were 10,000 downloads. Now, there are 206,000. Hopefully, its app continues to enjoy success – and serve its important purpose for users in Japan.

Twitter-Addicted Japan Laments the Service’s “Ice Age”


[1] NERV、停電&避難情報の投稿を停止  「XのAPI制限が厳しいため」  公式アプリなどに切り替え. IT media NEWS

[2] ダウンロード数206万回を超える謎の防災アカウント「特務機関NERV」と、石巻市出身の稀代のホワイトハッカー・石森大貴氏の10年を追った、初のドキュメントついに発売!. PR TIMES

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