With the ongoing shift to online platforms for shopping, work, education and other activities, as well as the profound impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives, smart city planning initiatives are gaining momentum. To make smart cities convenient, in addition to visualizing and analyzing vast amounts of data, providing residents and visitors with relevant information guided by data-based predictions will be key. Equipped with this information, people will be able to appropriately modify their actions, which will in turn optimize city management.
With the aim of realizing smart cities in this vein, SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) is engaged in the research and development of a Next-Generation AI City Simulator in collaboration with The University of Tokyo (UTokyo), a leading research university, Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd., a major railway operator and real estate company, and GRID INC., a Japan-based company engaged in developing and marketing AI-based computer systems.
The Next-generation AI City Simulator is one of the research themes of The Institute for AI and Beyond, a world-class AI research institute established by UTokyo, SoftBank Corp., SoftBank Group Corp. and Yahoo Japan Corporation. In partnership with Odakyu Electric Railway and GRID, the Institute is researching ways to create a convenient smart city by combining data collected from Ebina Station, a major hub railway station located approximately 40km southwest of central Tokyo, and its surrounding facilities, with algorithms that direct the flow of people.
Ebina Station and its environs see more than 100,000 passengers per day, and the data from this commuter traffic and population flow will be utilized by The Institute for AI and Beyond to verify the effectiveness of AI-based solutions in urban environments.
Utilizing Digital Twin to create value for all
For this research initiative, the Institute is using Digital Twin, a platform where simulations in the virtual space are used to optimize physical environments. Ebina Station and its adjacent facilities will be reproduced digitally, and simulations will be conducted to visualize and predict the movements and actions of people using data from population flow, traffic patterns, purchases, and visitor attributes.
With this Digital Twin platform, researchers at The Institute for AI and Beyond will aim to develop and implement practical technologies to ease congestion, promote shopping purchases, optimize transportation and recommend evacuation routes in the event of a disaster by sending notifications to visitors' smartphones, issuing coupons and using digital signage at facilities.
SoftBank Corp. aims to apply learnings from this research to build smart cities that foster stronger human connections while providing value to all community visitors and residents.
(Posted on August 20, 2021)
by SoftBank News Editors