Japan

Have a real-time information product for mobile devices? Fukuoka is willing to try it in their city!

The japanese city of Fukuoka is seeking products/solutions to deliver real-time bus, destination and tourist information to visitors in an easily accessible way on smartphones, screens and mobile devices. The city invites companies worldwide to submit their solutions before 17th February to the Living Labs Global Award 2012.

Submissions to the Award are free of charge and the winner of the Fukuoka category will be invited to pilot the solution in the city, with full support from local stakeholders to evaluate the solution before a full-scale roll-out.

In last year's edition, Worldsensing for example managed to see a pilot implementation of its FastPrk Technology to monitor parking within 6 months of winning the Living Labs Global Award.

For the 2012 edition, with the aim of improving mobility in Fukuoka, we are seeking a solution that provides bus and city information to non-daily users using a mobile platform: Mobile Bus Information System, or MBIS for short. The MBIS should include information on current city traffic conditions, bus schedules, bus transfers, the time needed to reach any destination, tourist information, city information, and so on (more information here).

How to submit:

Entries can be submitted online on www.llga.org until 17th February.

International juries will evaluate the entries and provide a shortlist of the top 100 showcases on 5th March. Winners will be announced on 2nd May 2012 at the Award Ceremony during the networking Rio Summit on Service Innovation in Cities, for which all participants are invited.

About the Living Labs Global Award 2012:

Living Labs Global, a non-profit association promoting innovative solutions in cities around the world, is organising the 2012 edition of the Living Labs Global Award in cooperation with the cities of Barcelona, Birmingham, Caceres, Cape Town, Coventry, Derry~Londonderry, Eindhoven, Fukuoka, Glasgow, Guadalajara, Hamburg, Lagos, Lavasa, Kristiansand, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Rome-Lazio, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Santiago de Chile and Terrassa.

Together with these 21 cities, the Living Labs Global Award 2012 aims to provide a market opportunity to innovative solutions with the aim of helping over 110 million citizens in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe.

For more information:

Email: media@livinglabs-global.com

Tel.: +34 93 1855110

www.llga.org Twitter: @LivingLabsAward Facebook: www.facebook.com/llga2012

Air-powered Car?!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wFTQNudtX4&w=440&h=253]I do not understand how this is physically possible, but it is. Toyota has developed an air-powered car. And it has reached 129.2 kilometers per hour on a test track.

The project came out of the “Dream Car Factory,” where Toyota attracts its young, visionary, and talented engineers. The projects developed on the dream factory are done on a voluntary basis, as a way to stimulate creativity and allow the new crop of employees to experiment with their fresh ideas.

The car uses Toyota’s technology for car air conditioner compressors, but flips the process so that inflated air propels the three-wheeled car forwards. I didn’t find any word about moving the car to market, but it appears they're going to try for the Guiness world record for fastest car driven by a compressed air engine. There are others?!

-- Terra Curtis

Sustenergy - Sustainable Energy

food You know that energy you get from drinking a fresh cup of coffee? That energy is unsustainable.  Energy from a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise stays with you throughout the day and throughout your life. A number of our awards cities this round are seeking solutions related to energy, and each of them is focused on finding more sustainable ways of producing it.

Birmingham, in the UK, wants a solution to transform its many tonnes of food waste into an energy source for businesses and residents. The city of Caceres, in Spain, identified municipal sports facilities as its potential source of sustainable energy. Kinetic energy could be captured to power the facility and perhaps streetlights or other municipal infrastructure.

Japan for Sustainability, a Japanese non-profit we’ve mentioned on this blog before, has been reporting several initiatives in their country related to sustainable energy that are worthwhile to report.

  • Solar-powered bus shelters: these photo-voltaic-equipped bus shelters protect waiting passengers from sun and rain, collect energy to light the bus stop at night, and have the ability to utilize any excess energy for powering nearby facilities, supplementing power during shortages like emergencies, or selling excess to power companies.  Sustainable solution indeed!
  • Citizen-funded solar generation project: property owners in Higashiomi, Japan can install subsidized solar panels on their roof, feed the power into a citywide network, and, as investors, receive dividends from the proceeds in the form of coupons to local establishments. It a sustainable solution for the economy and the environment.
  • Dynamic electricity pricing: Kitakyushu will pilot dynamic pricing of electricity based on season and time of day.  Ten percent of energy will come from wind and solar, while the remaining comes from a natural gas cogeneration plant.

What if some of the ideas coming from Japanese projects could be combined with Birmingham and Caceres’ request for proposals? For instance, what if households and businesses could “invest in” the local power grid by collecting and donating food waste? They could be incentivized in a way similar to the citizen-funded solar project in Japan. Or, what if the municipal sports facilities excess energy could be used to power not bus shelters, but electric buses or electric bicycles – sustainable forms of transport? Keep an eye on the submissions; this will be an interesting set for sure.

-          Terra Curtis

Sustenergy - Sustainable Energy

food You know that energy you get from drinking a fresh cup of coffee? That energy is unsustainable.  Energy from a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise stays with you throughout the day and throughout your life. A number of our awards cities this round are seeking solutions related to energy, and each of them is focused on finding more sustainable ways of producing it.

Birmingham, in the UK, wants a solution to transform its many tonnes of food waste into an energy source for businesses and residents. The city of Caceres, in Spain, identified municipal sports facilities as its potential source of sustainable energy. Kinetic energy could be captured to power the facility and perhaps streetlights or other municipal infrastructure.

Japan for Sustainability, a Japanese non-profit we’ve mentioned on this blog before, has been reporting several initiatives in their country related to sustainable energy that are worthwhile to report.

  • Solar-powered bus shelters: these photo-voltaic-equipped bus shelters protect waiting passengers from sun and rain, collect energy to light the bus stop at night, and have the ability to utilize any excess energy for powering nearby facilities, supplementing power during shortages like emergencies, or selling excess to power companies.  Sustainable solution indeed!
  • Citizen-funded solar generation project: property owners in Higashiomi, Japan can install subsidized solar panels on their roof, feed the power into a citywide network, and, as investors, receive dividends from the proceeds in the form of coupons to local establishments. It a sustainable solution for the economy and the environment.
  • Dynamic electricity pricing: Kitakyushu will pilot dynamic pricing of electricity based on season and time of day.  Ten percent of energy will come from wind and solar, while the remaining comes from a natural gas cogeneration plant.

What if some of the ideas coming from Japanese projects could be combined with Birmingham and Caceres’ request for proposals? For instance, what if households and businesses could “invest in” the local power grid by collecting and donating food waste? They could be incentivized in a way similar to the citizen-funded solar project in Japan. Or, what if the municipal sports facilities excess energy could be used to power not bus shelters, but electric buses or electric bicycles – sustainable forms of transport? Keep an eye on the submissions; this will be an interesting set for sure.

-          Terra Curtis

To Go Forward, Press Sideways

Naruse Pedal Courtesy of the News and ObserverDriving a car is a complex activity.  One has to constantly monitor the surroundings in at least 180 degrees while simultaneously operating the machinery itself.  In situations of suddent danger we often panic, our reaction instinctual.  So, what happens when driving and something unexpected happens, requiring instantaneous response? Too often, argues Japanese inventor Masuyuki Naruse, drivers stomp their foot -- an instinctual reaction to danger -- accelerating the car forward rather than hitting the brakes.  And, how could we blame them?  The accelerator and brake pedals are directly next to one another. This design is fundamentally flawed, and that's why Naruse, along with a handful of others, have invented a different pedal.  Naruse's prototype, which brakes when pressed down and accelerates when pressed sideways, has been installed in about 130 cars in Japan; regulators in Sweden are testing a model designed by Sven Gustaffson.

The premise is that braking must be the default option, and since people instinctually stomp down when panicked, Naruse's pedal will only brake in response to that action.  UCLA psychologist Richard A. Schmidt  found in a 1989 study that disruptions to neuromuscular processes can cause the foot to deviate from the intended reaction; engineer and psychologist Katsuya Matsunaga of Kyushu Sangyo University in Japan performed an experiment where drivers were asked to switch from accelerating to braking on cue, and when that cue was accompanied by a startling noise, subjects often hesitated or found difficulty performing the switch.

Again, in my opinion, cars should be used minimally in areas of high density, where sudden, unexpected events are most likely to occur in the road.  However, for those who need to and for their fellow street users, this pedal or some version of it should provide peace of mind and expanded safety.

-Terra Curtis

Japan for Sustainability

japan flagJapan for Sustainability is a non-profit with a mission to inform the world on Japanese advances toward sustainability.  They appear to be one of few Japanese entities we’ve encountered who has a well put together website in English, making it accessible to us and many of the world’s non-Japanese speakers. One of the first things to highlight about their philosophy on sustainability is that the best innovations don’t always come from the future – we should also look to the past for good models where minimalism, recycling, and self-sustainability were practiced.  In Japan, the Edo Period presents one such model, running from the 17th to 19th century. They also place a lot of faith in (and responsibility on) the generation of youth.  In fact, they have a separate website in English dedicated to children.  It includes various “How To”s, like “how to have a car without owning it”, “how to get what we want without buying things”, and “how we can make people pay for their pollution.”  None of their tips are particularly ground-breaking, however what is innovative and encouraging is the emphasis they place on instilling the ideas of sustainability early in a child’s life.

For the rest of us, there’s their main page – a series of daily articles covering such categories as energy, transportation, material reduction, food/water, and technology, to name a few.

Highlights include a juice-powered car developed by a Japanese toy company called Tomy Co.  This is a toy-sized car, however it is intended to be an environmental education toy.  The technology used is being researched for more practical uses in the future.  Japan for Sustainability also writes about Fuji Xerox, who has replaced its fleet of motorcycles, used by repair engineers, with power-assisted bikes.  They claim this has reduced their carbon footprint by 335 tons in the past 4 years.  Lastly, they highlight Pizza Hut, of all things, as a model for supporting domestic rice farmers by using rice flour in its pizza dough.

We are pursuing further conversations with JFS as their goals and model seem close to ours.

-Terra Curtis