Over the past three weeks, I have been observing many different examples of smart technologies in Japan. A smart technology is anything that improves the everyday lives of all citizens of an area. The technologies have emerged out of Japans megaregions because megaregions are usually the sources of technological innovation. Cities that implement these technologies are referred to as “smart cities” are usually leading cities in sustainability.
The first smart technologies I witnessed in Japan were the underground parking garages for cars and bikes. These were essentially parking hubs that robotically stored one’s car or bike and then returned it when needed. These improve people’s lives and preserve the beauty of the city by eliminating massive above ground parking structures or cluttered parking lots. The automated parking systems have been implemented in certain areas of Tokyo, but I have yet to see them in other cities in Japan. I also feel that the United States could benefit from implementing a technology like this because a lot more people own and drive personal vehicles. The underground parking garage technology could also be used for Bird and Lime scooters, which would help clean the streets of scooters laying around everywhere.
I also witnessed a variety of smart technologies while touring the JR East Research and Development facility. The people over at JR East were working on multiple innovations that will improve the lives of every utilizing their transit systems. The most impressive technology I observed there was the adjustable train station ceiling. If implemented, this ceiling would adjust in height to correct airflow depending on how many people were walking through the station. Another innovation that JR East was working on was their new prepaid card scanner. This is almost the same thing that is currently being used, however, its aim is to make scanning in or out of train stations easier for wheelchair users by placing the scanner at an angle to the gate.
These are just a few examples of smart technologies that have been developed and implemented in Japan, however, there are still many ideas that can be produced to improve our lives.