In Tokushima your television could save your life – the city is using data about on/off times for personal televisions to determine whether elderly citizens have successfully evacuated during earthquakes. In the world of fiction, from Akira to Cowboy Bebop, Japan has long been an exporter of dystopian visions of a technocratic future – but the reality of Japan’s smart technology infrastructure is both more recent and more benign.
Bernadett Köteles-Degrendele, Sharing Cities communication lead, met with an association of Japanese businesses to discuss the shared challenges facing European and Japanese cities. Ikuji Shinohara of NEC Corporation, Jin Miura of Unisys, Kitayoshi Tsumita of JMC, Mamoru Miura of JEITA, Mario Shirane of Fujitsu and Yukihiro Shirakawa of Hitachi, presented case studies in the cities of Aizu Wakamatsu, Sapporo and Tokushima.
It was after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 that Aizu Wakamatsu’s mission to become a smart city got into full swing, a reaction to shortages and irregularities in energy supply.
Combing tradition and modernity, this city is wielding ICT with a citizen focus, from improving the convenience of basic services to supporting education and childbirth. By making use of biomass power, local production and smart agriculture, Aizu Wakamatsu will improve both the efficiency and reliability of its energy.
The solutions they presented were majoritively data focussed, and could be replicated in European cities. The city of Sapporo, for instance, is combining tourist sightseeing with traffic information through a digital mobility app; encouraging citizens to use their mobile phones to keep the city up to date on road conditions; and using anonymised health data from phones to better understand the relationship between health and exercise.
Japanese cities, like European ones, see technology as a means to improving the lives of citizens, rather than an end in itself. Sharing Cities hopes that the future will bring more inspiration for European cities from Japanese ones, and more collaboration too.
For more information, contact Bernadett Köteles-Degrendele: firstname.lastname@example.org
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement N°691895
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