Japanese firms pitch technologies for next-generation cities in New York

Four Japanese companies showed off their technologies for energy-efficient “smart cities” using advanced environmental and information technology during an exhibition in New York last week.

Daikin Industries Ltd, Hitachi Ltd, Panasonic Corp and Shimizu Corp participated in the event “Smart Cities New York 2018,” with the aim to alleviate problems expected to arise in cities such as inefficiency and congestion. By 2050, around two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities.

Hitachi presented its smart city solution called “Smart Spaces,” which helps organizations use data-driven tools to improve the lives of citizens and create safer and more efficient cities.

It also introduced a method to modernize subway signal systems with trains that would only require video cameras and a display with sensors. This is to eliminate the need to install heavy-duty signaling systems, a current source of delays.

Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York says it will take 40 years to implement this type of system, Hitachi assures that its proposal would reduce the time to 15 to 20 years.

A variety of other innovations came from Japanese companies, such as Panasonic which showed exhibition visitors its image-recognition technology intended to reduce traffic accidents.

Daikin presented a way to maintain air temperature and cleanliness inside buildings with virtual reality. Shimizu, a major general construction house, introduced a mechanism that would reduce the cost of electricity by interconnecting power within an area.

Angel Olvera, a 24-year-old entrepreneur interested in starting a Smart City, told Kyodo News that Hitachi’s Smart Spaces is one of the exciting products he has seen at the exhibition.

“I think it has a lot of application for events and crowd management, being able to detect when there is potentially too many people in a space or when a wrong person is in a space,” he said.

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