Tokyo brings all the innovations of a smart city to its preparations for the 2020 Olympics

In 2020, the sun will rise on the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, which with a population of almost 35 million (14 million of whom live in the city itself) is the largest metropolitan area in the world. In a very recent ranking of the world’s most innovative cities, Tokyo took first place on the podium, beating out New York, London and Los Angeles in the process. The competitive advantages enjoyed by the “capital of the East” stem primarily from the very high level of technology found in the city’s businesses in parallel with the very high educational level of its population. This means that there is constant interaction between everyday practices and usage and the latest progress made in the world of research.

A Japan fascinated by the future!

It is important to bear in mind that Japan has always been fascinated by automation and robots. Manga books and comics, which serve as a form of popular everyday literature in Japan, are full of illustrations and stories depicting robots doted with some degree of intelligence or other. Fifty-six years after the 1964 Olympics created such excitement across the entire country, we are now going to see the city 5.0, which will be immersed in big data, artificial intelligence and robotics. Tokyo already attracts the top talent in these areas, and the city is very probably also going to attract the best athletes in all the various Olympic disciplines, including the more extreme types of sports such as skateboarding, rock climbing and BMX. A fleet of robot taxis will be providing smooth and completely stress-free transportation for all this exceptional talent as the total of 331 competitions and 33 different sports take place.


But what technologies are going to be used to provide safety and security at the Games, which are expected to attract thousands of tourists from all over the world?

The most widely used device will undoubtedly be the smartphone, and to avoid saturating the 4G networks, 5G is set to be deployed across all the sites, thus enabling very large scale transmission of images and videos. But that’s not all. The smartphone will also serve as both a security pass and a means of payment: Visa will be employing NFC technology to insert chips in rubber bracelets that visitors will be required to wear when entering the stadiums. Japanese telecoms operator NTT Docomo will be putting in place a news and information system that will send real-time statistics to spectators’ smartphones, whilst a virtual screen will be used to provide them with performance, ranking and statistical information about the athletes taking part in their chosen event.


Olympics ultra secure

It was recently announced that facial recognition will be used for the first time at the Summer Olympics as part of stadium access security measures. All visitors will have the honour of being scanned and, by doing so, providing premium quality data to the local research centres. A web-enabled smart screen will then show them the ideal way to get to their seats, thus both making access to the stadiums more fluid and improving safety for people. It’s easy to imagine that these devices will also make it possible to track all movements in the city and thus regulate the traffic and manage the various checks and controls.

Further technological advances will be made between now and summer 2020, and it’s going to be interesting monitoring the impact they have in terms of both security and mobility in a city tasked with continuing a heritage – one of the three major challenges involved in this 32nd Olympiad.


To read also : Singapore: Security in a ‘Smart Nation’