The Japanese Capital supports startups, public policies and innovative ideas to help solve the transportation challenge

Each day, 20 million commuters leave their houses to go to work in one of the trains of Tokyo’s metropolitan area. The figure is impressive, and it represents only a part of the challenge that the city, which is home to more than 13 million people, is facing. Yet, Tokyo also has one of the most efficient and innovative transportation systems in the world, which places it in the smart cities’ Olympus.

Thus not surprisingly, Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Olympic Games next year, and the Japanese authorities are making important efforts to improve intramuros mobility. Since planning is key, a few years ago the government started to stimulate and support innovative projects which would bring greener and smarter solutions to that particular challenge.

The results are already showing: projects like “Condition-Based Maintenance” use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to collect and analyze data pertaining to the Yamanote Line, one of the busiest train rings in Tokyo, in order to forecast failures and identify weaknesses, and hence to reduce the need for maintenance closures. The city has also set a bold objective in terms of the environmental impact of its transportation system: bring down carbon dioxide emissions to 25 percent by next year.

The entrepreneurial landscape is also bustling in Tokyo, as projects like autonomous driving, transportation apps and shared mobility start to flourish. Even private companies from traditional industries like Mori, an urban developer based in Tokyo, are investing in on-demand transit technologies for its employees. By using a mobile app which calculates and optimizes commuting routes, they can share cars and give rides.

A recent McKinsey report has calculated that the taxi market alone accounts for more than USD$17 billion, which has attracted companies like Uber but also caught the attention of other investors. Last year, the city’s first autonomous taxi was launched as a pilot project, which is intended to be fully operative during the Olympic Games. Financed by the metropolitan government, the project is projected to be affordable and safe with sensor-equipped vehicles that operate in full autonomy while a driver is at the wheel to attend to emergencies.

Smart transportation is one of the major investments in Japan, as the country faces a series of demographic and economic shifts, requiring new solutions and regulations. Air mobility is another one. Japan is an insulated country with restricted land mobility. Via its Future 2018 Investment Strategy, the Japanese government has set up a roadmap for the development of flying vehicles, which has already attracted several startups and innovative minds.

Are you interested in Smart Technology, Mobility and Smart Cities? Register for SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which will be held in Tokyo on 18-19 September 2019. Experts, officials and entrepreneurs from all over the world will discuss new trends in transportation and disruptive technologies for the future of our cities.

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