Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU) is constantly striving to maintain a cutting-edge research environment, not just to keep its place among the top universities in the world, but to promote research that resolves the big issues of big cities.
As part of this mission, 2020 saw TMU roll out an extensive local 5G network over its Minami-osawa and Hino campuses, the largest of its kind in Japan. This is part of the "'Future of Tokyo' Strategy" proposed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), specifically contributing to the vision of a "Smart Tokyo" which harnesses Tokyo's full potential for its residents using digital technology. New initiatives will also enable cutting-edge research that makes full use of this environment and create new collaborations between TMU and the TMG as well as private companies, helping industry, academia, and the public sector work together.
A key feature of TMU's local 5G network is its sheer size - the largest of its kind in Japan, 60 antennas cover an area of 490,000 sqm over the Minami-osawa and Hino campuses. It is also the first network in Japan to cover such a large area using a standalone architecture with the 4.7GHz band at its core.
Projects have already begun to explore how this local 5G environment might be used to usher in the future, a human-centered society that achieves economic growth and resolves social problems through a high-level integration of cyberspace (virtual space) and physical space (real space). The university has founded a series of new research grants to stimulate research on high-speed and large-volume mobile communications, core infrastructure for such a society, as well as research on social implementation of services that would improve the quality of life of city dwellers.
In 2020 and 2021, TMU will select eight research projects from an open call within the university. Each project will receive a total of 100 million yen over 5 years. Projects are divided into two categories: "Exploratory Research", fundamental research contributing to solving problems in future society, and "Research for Social Implementation", applied research whose results are expected to lead directly to deployment.
On February 15, 2021, TMU hosted an online symposium to showcase these research initiatives titled "Kick-off Meeting for 'Smart Tokyo' at Tokyo Metropolitan University."
In the first half, a keynote lecture was delivered by Kaname Hayashi from GROOVE X, a leading start-up entrepreneur in Japan and an alumnus of the TMU graduate school. Mr. Hayashi delivered a lecture on the family-oriented robot LOVOT as an example of a technology that can make us feel happy, commenting that "the goal of technology is not to replace human work, but to support the emotional growth of humans. Experimentation with 5G will begin to reveal how technology might even enable emotional care. With ample data and the availability of AI, it is sure to play a role in providing emotional care." Other lectures gave an overview of local 5G legislation in Japan, projects led by private companies and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and local 5G and research programs at TMU.
In the second half, a panel discussion was held on the topic "Hints for a 'New Normal' Society built by Industry, Academia, and the Public Sector." Panelists representing industry, academia, the public sector, and citizens, including Manabu Miyasaka, the Vice Governor of Tokyo, took part in a lively discussion on a 'new normal' made possible by close collaboration between all sectors.
Remarks reflected many diverse views: "While many things can now be done online simply due to Covid-19, we live in a real, physical society; the virtual world can also be a means for enriching everyday 'real' life. To this end, it is crucial to think imaginatively about how the real world and the virtual world can be linked together."; "DX (Digital Transformation) is a human-centered tool that serves to connect people. We need to think how this tool can be used productively by involving more citizens, not just leave it to governing bodies."; "Emotional care is extremely important. Motivation springs from emotion. The combination of emotion and technology is sure to become a key concept."
TMU hopes cutting-edge research that takes advantage of this state-of-the-art research environment will accelerate the positive feedback between high-level research and excellent education that is the university's hallmark, allowing it to contribute even more to society.
Watch this space for more exciting new projects from TMU in the future.