On December 19, 2013 several companies from around Japan came together on Kumejima for an Information and Communication Technology (ITC) seminar. The event was held at the Gushikawa Community Center on the West side of Kume Island. Locals, the press, and special guests were invited to come and learn about some of the exciting upcoming projects on Kume Island, and to celebrate the launch of Kume Island’s island-wide WiFi network.
Starting this month, 95% of Kume Island’s populated areas will be served by a free public WiFi network. This network, the first of its kind, is designed to help foster communication among the community and act as the infrastructure for a slew of new technologies including elderly care and communication, shopping, tourism, and more.
One of the major technologies to pair with the WiFi network is a new application for smartphones that will allow tourists to get more information about Kume Island locals as well as get discounts at island shops and restaurants when they visit places around the island. In addition, the application provides emergency information and maps to help facilitate tourist’s explorations of the island. The application is available free on iOS and android.
Parliamentarian Shimajiri Aiko attended the seminar to voice her support of Kume Island’s projects and goal of becoming a “Smart Island.” Kumejima plans to be energy self sufficient by 2020 and so is fostering technological development and research on the island.
Another project set to launch next year, a self-driving electric car experiment, should also help to solidify Kume Island’s growing reputation as a technology test center. Kume Island has already been the home of the world’s only operational OTEC facility for eight months. These new projects show a potential future use for the electricity created with larger scale OTEC plants. It is hoped that OTEC could be the power provider for a set of future electric or hydrogen powered cars that could operate without drivers, an item that could be beneficial for Japan’s elderly populations, or for tourists who would not be able to drive themselves.
The ITC seminar was a great chance for locals to learn more about the projects Kume Island is pursuing and an important first step on the road to Kumejima, Smart Island.