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August 19, 2021

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation

"Japan Walk Guide" Accessibility and Transportation Guidance Web Application Developed for People with Limited Mobility, such as Wheelchair Users

~ Total 1,900 volunteers create a barrier-free map covering a total distance of approximately 700 kms ~

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (Head office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President and CEO: Jun Sawada; hereinafter referred to as "NTT") has developed "Japan Walk Guide", an accessibility and transportation guidance web application in cooperation with Foundation for Promoting Personal Mobility and Ecological Transportation (hereinafter referred to as "Eco-Mo Foundation"). The "Japan Walk Guide" will be provided by the All Japan Business Committee as a service for those involved in sporting events such as competition volunteers. NTT will provide technical support for its operation.

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1. Background

We would like wheelchair users to move around with ease as they enjoy watching the sporting events. Toward the realization of a society where everyone can live comfortably without barriers, we are collecting barrier-free information at the 41 sporting event venues (Fig. 1) including the Olympic stadium and their 98 nearest stations, from Sapporo to Izu, with the help of approximately 1,900 volunteers gathered under the call of the All Japan Business Committee.

Figure 1: List of venues for which surrounding barrier-free information has been collected Figure 1: List of venues for which surrounding barrier-free information has been collected

NTT has supported the project not only by volunteering to collect barrier-free information, but also through technical cooperation using information and communications, including the provision of the "MaPiece*1" barrier-free information and communication technology. In cooperation with the Eco-Mo Foundation, we have developed the Japan Walk Guide, an accessibility and transportation guidance web application for sports venues including the Olympic Stadium, using the barrier-free information collected by the All Japan Business Committee and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
 This web application was launched by the All Japan Business Committee as a service for spectators watching sporting events and officials on July 13, 2021, and is limited to some venues and officials. The Japan Walk Guide will be available until September 5, as it is expected to be of use to wheelchair users, volunteers and others involved in the sporting events held from August 24 (please note that you will not be able to access or view the site after these events).
 Information for this web app is also posted on the special page of Tokyo Universal Design Navigator (operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for Social Welfare and Public Health) (provided by the Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health, Tokyo Metropolitan Government).

"Japan Walk Guide" URL: https://transit.2020.ntt/Open other window

Japan Walk Guide QR code

2. Web application overview

"Japan Walk Guide" (Screen 1) is a one-stop web application that provides people with limited mobility such as wheelchair users with comprehensive barrier-free information from the nearest bus or train station to the sports venues. This web application seamlessly integrates the two functions; a function for walking routes between stations and venue guidance using the barrier-free map information collected by volunteers using NTT's barrier-free information and communication technology "MaPiece", and the transit guidance function including barrier-free information in stations provided by "Raku-Raku Odekake Net (Supported by the Nippon Foundation)*2" of the Eco-Mo Foundation. For example, the app makes it possible to check in one place information on barrier-free facilities in stations and terminals, information for transfer using barrier-free routes, information on barrier-free walking routes between stadiums and their nearest station, and information on surrounding facilities such as multi-functional restrooms. Information on congestion at stations nearest to stadiums will also be provided as reference information for avoiding congestion, which is increasingly needed as a measure against infectious diseases.
 This web application can reduce the risk of getting lost because the user does not know available routes. We will also provide information to help wheelchair users move around with peace of mind, such as using stations during less crowded times.

(1) Transit search that considers barrier-free walking routes

Japan Walk Guide enables search for transfer routes that take into account barrier-free information in stations provided by "Raku-Raku Odekake Net*2", specifying the stadium as the destination and departure point. The search result screen displays the walking distance on candidate transit routes and the degree of barrier-free accessibility of the walking route, enabling route selection that takes into account the route's barrier-free status. (Screen 2)

(2) Walking route guidance

Displays information on accessible routes (barrier-free routes) to sports venues. Routes can be checked in advance not only through written information about such things as the presence of slopes or steps, but also by looking at local photos collected by volunteers of the All Japan Business Committee. (Screen 3)

(3) Information on surrounding facilities

Not only does the app provide information on the route between venues and nearest stations, but also provides useful information on facilities in the area, such as multi-functional restrooms, information centers and rest areas. If you want to go to facilities in surrounding areas off the route between the venues and their nearest stations, the app also provides information that you can check on the optimal barrier-free routes in the vicinity based on your user characteristics. If you find a mistake in the information, you can report it using the [O] or [X] buttons and ask a volunteer to correct it. With the cooperation of users and volunteers, we will leave this map in the legacy as a barrier-free map with even higher accuracy. (Screen 4)

(4) Station congestion information

Wheelchair users find it difficult to move around and take the train when it is crowded. Furthermore, to avoid infection, the coronavirus pandemic has further increased the need to avoid congestion. With the cooperation of railway operators (Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd., East Japan Railway Company, Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit, Inc.,) the Japan Walk Guide provides "station congestion prediction information" developed by NTT DOCOMO, INC. based on AI and demographic information acquired from cell phone base station operation information. (Screen 5)
 Station congestion information is useful not only for wheelchair users, but for the general public as well.

(Fig.2) Screenshot of Japan Walk Guide (Fig.2) Screenshot of Japan Walk Guide

3. Future developments

In NTT's view, the release of this web application is not only to make it available during the project period, but is also a way to communicate the achievements of the collaboration between citizen volunteers and wheelchair users fostered up to that point. NTT believes that the web application will become legacy for its significance in raising awareness of the fact that people can collect barrier-free information and create barrier-free maps on their own and foster a culture of continuous updating going forward.
 Furthermore, through technical support for this app, NTT will evaluate the UI/UX of the inclusive service, which will lead to future research and development. With this challenge as a first step, NTT will contribute to the creation of an inclusive society where people with disabilities can live autonomously and with ease.

*1"MaPiece" barrier-free information and communications technology
 This technology enables volunteers without cartographic expertise to easily collect highly accurate barrier-free information for navigation (in compliance with MLIT's specifications for the development of pedestrian space network data, etc.). In addition to collecting information in advance, users and volunteers will notify of any changes after the service has been launched and thus provide a mechanism to keep the barrier-free map information up to date. By complying with specifications for the development of pedestrian space network data, etc., the technology can be used universally in a variety of services and is anticipated for use as legacy going forward. With the provision of this service as an opportunity, we aim to foster an inclusive culture where everyone can create and update barrier-free maps.
https://group.ntt/jp/newsrelease/2018/11/22/181122b.html

*2"Raku-Raku Odekake Net (Supported by the Nippon Foundation)"
 This service provides barrier-free information on barrier-free facilities in stations and terminals, and transfer information, etc., in an integrated manner to enable people such as the elderly and disabled to smoothly use public transport such as trains and buses. The Eco-Mo Foundation operates the service based on information about barrier-free transport provided by transport operators and facility managers across Japan.
https://www.ecomo-rakuraku.jp/Open other window

The All Japan Business Committee and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) are also issuing press releases on this matter.

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Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
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