The last three weeks of this trip have been very informative and enlightening on the advancement in “smart technologies” in Japanese society. From innovations in transit services with the JR, to improved, sustainable parking methods from the Giken company and their eco-parking systems, Japan is continuously showing why it is leading in the race of creating smarter cities.
In the beginning of our trip, we toured the Giken company observing and learning about their eco cycle and car parking systems. They can park over 200 bikes and 50 cars in their underground parking units, which are a cylinder shape. The system works in where you park your car, receive a ticket of its storage spot, and then when you come back, you insert your ticket and the computer retrieves your car for you. This parking system is “smart” indeed by saving space in the city with smaller parking space which always for more space to build other beneficial “smart” and green systems instead of having clunky, cement parking lots taking up an unnecessary number of square miles.
On another tour, we observed some of the newest initiatives in improving JR East transit systems. One project was relating to the boarding and departing the trains, where instead of a simple waist level barrier separating the customer form the tracks, it is whole fence-like barrier that rises and lowers upon arrival and departure of the train. This will increase customer safety and further decrease the chances of people committing suicides on the railways. The JR East employees also showed our group an improved version of the Suica card scanner. This scanner, differing from the present box gate look, has the scanning part at an angle and also above the customer suspended from the ceiling, providing more convenient access to customers, specifically to handicapped passengers in wheelchairs and shorter customers to scan their card with less strain. These are just two examples from the JR company to make more sustainable transit systems, working with “smarter” technology.
With these and the countless other examples in the making, Japan is displaying very “smart” and sustainable technological advances to make their environment healthier and people having easier access and convenience in their everyday lives.