smart travel

Making travel information accessible in Fukuoka

Fukuoka, Japan, has a dense and well-connected bus system. With a population of roughly 1.5 million, Japan's 7th largest city is familiar with the challenges of city mobility and has taken major steps to promote public transit throughout the region. Fukuoka currently has real-time bus tracking available and has set up applications to connect residents to the route and schedule information that they need. This year, Fukuoka joined as a partner in the Living Labs Global Award (LLGA) to improve the accessibility of local travel information even further. The city's main concern is that while bus information is readily available and understandable to residents, the current interface is difficult for visitors to interpret, particularly those from abroad. Fukuoka hopes to develop a platform for local travel and tourist destinations that can be easily interpreted by visitors who are not familiar with the city or its transit system. Here are some of the features that Fukuoka would like to see included in its new system:

  • A mobile bus information system (MBIS) that is accessible to users via web browser, smartphone app, and/or other mobile display
  • Trip routing capabilities that help users identify the best route to take from origin to destination
  • Routing to tourist destinations throughout the city, including travel information for self-guided city tours
  • Easy to read bus schedules, routing, and real-time information on an interactive display
  • Advanced map interface to provide a visual of travel information and options

In the shortlist round for this year's LLGA, Fukuoka chose five showcases as nominees for the opportunity to market and launch their proposals as a pilot project within the city. One of the nominees, Eyestop, has also been chosen as a nominee for Mexico City and was featured in a post last month.

Two other shortlisted proposals, BLUEPASS and Excursion, take advantage of mobile accessibility in different ways. BLUEPASS uses Bluetooth technology to allow users to interact with transportation signage, vehicles, and stations to receive up-to-date travel information on their mobile devices. Excursion operates as a mobile app that provides the user with a listing of all possible routes and arrival times from a selected stop, or can provide a listing of routes based on the desired destination. The app is designed to be visually intuitive and uses colors and symbols to communicate information so that it can be universally understood.

Another showcase, City Screen & Media Networks by EuMediaNet, focuses on making travel information accessible through a variety of displays, from personal mobile devices to web browsers to large public display screens. Their model would allow information to be displayed in locations throughout the city so that those without a mobile device can still take advantage of Fukuoka's travel and tourist information.

Lastly, the Smart Pathfinder solution uses a mobile app interface to organize travel information by transit stop and neighborhood. In addition to the real-time bus information already offered in Fukuoka, Smart Pathfinder offers directions to a destination based on a user's preference to minimize time, cost, and/or bus transfers; has an interactive map to view a stop's surroundings or routes throughout the city; the option to plan a trip with certain sights or destinations highlighted along the way; and a rush hour alert to help users avoid heavy traffic.

What's your favorite solution for Fukuoka?

~ Allison Bullock