Future Japan is starting in Aizuwakamatsu, a city of 120,000 people, one-thousandth of the country’s population, in Fukushima.
Smart city projects that leverage advanced technologies including AI, big data and IoT is progressing across the world. Here in Aizuwakamatsu, Accenture is, together with the local people, promoting a citizen-centered and solution-oriented smart city project as a model that is equal to any other in the world. It is our mission to make a model out of Aizuwakamatsu, contribute to its revitalization and deploy the model across Japan, by supporting our partners’ pilot programs.
Accenture Innovation Center Fukushima has two roles
to support our clients’ innovation efforts.
Portal Sites and Chatbot for Citizens
We have launched the local portal site “Aizuwakamatsu+”—developed under the theme “Visualizing Lives within 500m Radius of Your Home"" to promote two-way communications between the city and its citizens. If you log in through SNS, you can get personalized, administrative and local information, in accordance with your attribute information.
As part of measures to drive the usage, we have also developed an AI Chatbot service for LINE, which enables you to get information you need in your daily life—which clinic is open or closed today, or how to get various certificates issued, for instance—through LINE user interface.
Energy Saving and Renewable Energy Projects
Visualization of Energy Use
We have been helping with the effort to transit to renewable energy and promote energy saving, with the goal of “replacing 100% of Fukushima Prefecture's energy sources with renewable energy” by 2040.
Home Energy Management System (HEMS) devices have been installed at homes across the city to monitor hourly and daily electricity use, which is posted to Aizuwakamatsu+ for citizens to access, leading to the reduction of power consumption by up to 27%.
Citizens are more willing to provide data now that they can see specific benefits.
We are also promoting woody biomass power generation, and Smart City AiCT, an office Accenture Innovation Center Fukushima is moving into, will be completely powered by renewable energy.
Tools to Solve Region-specific Issues
Information on where roads have been cleared of snow is more important than the weather forecast for Aizu citizens, who struggle with deep snow every winter. They can now obtain real-time information on where snowplows equipped with GPS are located and which roads have been cleared of snow, based on their inputted address. The service started in March 2016 on Aizuwakamatsu+, enabled by open data-based hackathon. With real-time information on where snowplows are operating, which changes with the snowfall, the local people can commute to office or school with less difficulty than before. Citizens contribute by posting their comments on the service, information on where exactly snow is piling up high, especially in remote parts of the city, which, in addition to the usage history of snowplows, all help the city improve the management of the fleet of snowplows.
Promoting Inbound Sightseeing
“VISIT + AIZU”
We have redefined what Aizuwakamatsu can offer, not found in metropolises, as the best place for third-time visitors to Japan. To capture their interest, we have launched a digital promotion site (Digital DMO) in partnership with some of the top influencers in the world. The site can recognize what mother tongue visitors speak and offer attractive sightseeing spots depending on their nationalities’ travel preferences. As a result, in 2018, 3.4 times as many foreign tourists as in 2015-2017 visited Aizuwakamatsu. The site uses push communication to provide tourists with information on where shops or interesting spots are, based on their location. The data thus acquired is used to assess overseas sightseeing market needs, create Aizuwakamatsu brand strategy, and build and implement a digital marketing platform.
Mobile payment services
Tourists can make payments via mobile devices at shops, hotels or when they use transportation. Citizens registered at Aizuwakamatsu+ can also use the services. The integration of the services and citizens’ IDs will enable the body running the smart city to manage data on the region's purchasing history. The data will help create new products and services as well as new services focused on citizens, by analyzing the interrelationship of the above-mentioned eight areas.
Promoting Preventive Medicine and IoT Health Care
Doctors will be able to input data into the electronic medical record system and retrieve patient data by voice input enabled by AI, making their work far more effective. It will also enable them to devote more of their time to treat patients. AI also standardizes data, which makes data analysis easier and more effective. Mobile payment is expected to enable patients to stay at the hospital for shorter hours than before. There is also a plan to digitalize prescription data, which will be delivered to patients’ homes. Health care services that use IoT to improve the health of citizens are being piloted and the vital data thus collected will be used for citizens to appreciate preventive medicine better, saving both the country and city an enormous amount of money in medical bills and contributing to the development of the medical industry through the use of data.
Developing Analytics Talent
Analytics Talent Development Courses on Open Data Use
The University of Aizu offers endowed courses to develop analytics talent capable of using open data and promoting open-data-related industry as well as making suggestions to the city and local business community. As part of the course, the university uses the location data of city’s official cars, which is open data, to identify places where they are more likely to get involved in traffic incidents, for instance. The use of this and other specific examples is expected to help develop “public analytics talent” with a set of skills in analyzing public data as well as business data.
We are also working to secure and develop medical analytics talent with medical knowledge and skilled in statistics and data analysis.
Future city life that uses advanced technologies such as AI, big data, open data is being piloted in eight areas—energy, tourism, preventive medicine, education, agriculture, manufacturing, finance and transportation—with even some of it being already implemented. There are 29 ongoing such projects as of March 2019, not counting undisclosed projects.
Citizens are at the heart of our projects. We have implemented a variety of citizen-oriented projects over the years that have served to make citizens aware that data and technologies are used to solve local issues and improve the quality of their daily life. As a result, they understand the importance of data better, more ready to accept and participate in various projects. Building ICT office helped attract a number of advanced technology companies, which have established sound working relationship with the local business community and various official and civic bodies by helping them implement advanced technologies.
The infrastructure for Aizuwakamatsu smart city is Accenture’s “Smart City Platform.” It enables a variety of data possessed by the city’s administrative bodies, research organizations, business community, tourists and citizens to be collected, managed and disclosed, conducting analysis and experiments across the areas. What's more, it enables optimization of city infrastructure, industry development, and creation of citizen-oriented smart city that enhances everyday citizen lives.
ICT Office Building (Smart City AiCT), 1-77 Higashisakae-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima Prefecture, 965-0872