NRI Papers
No. 181 January 1, 2013
  "Reconstruction" Leads to the Creation of "Urban Systems"  
Chikashi SHIMURA

The Great East Japan Earthquake has caused the country to refocus attention on its cities and regions. Given that the victims of the earthquake are still suffering, the country must deal with the immediate practical problems of restarting everyday life and preserving livelihoods. While so doing, the country must also proceed with a comprehensive and systematic program from a medium- to long-term perspective to facilitate the structural transformation of regional industries.

This program involves creating new "urban systems" where physical locations and software solutions are organically interrelated by rebuilding physical spaces as locations suitable for the region's lifestyle and economic activities and providing new schemes and services in such locations.

In order to build these new urban systems, it will be necessary to redesign and reconnect various service chains that are in place in cities and regions. The technology that is gaining attention as a means of enabling these new schemes and services is information and communications technology (ICT).

Here, it is important to note that the realities of the region's society and urban development should not be overlooked. To incorporate these realities into new schemes and services, the fusion of ICT and cities is required. Specifically, the characteristics derived from geographical spatial structures, such as economies of density and the sharing and optimal use of resources based on zone structure, must be fully incorporated in the systems to be created by using ICT.

In order for post-earthquake reconstruction efforts not to end up simply as a short-lived trend, a change of business models is necessary on the part of the ICT industry to enable handling fields that are characterized by small scale and diversity, which is inherent in urban development. Actually, in the earthquake-affected areas, a new business model known as the "SaaS aggregator" has been appearing as part of the process of recovering a company's business operations.

Contents
I Earthquake Shifts Focus Back to the Regions and Structural Issues
II Barriers to Overcome
III Need for "Urban Systems" in Efforts towards Reconstruction(Rebuilding Places and Schemes in an Integrated Manner)
IV Urban Systems Comprised of Service Chains (Fusion of Information and Communications Technology and Cities)
V Design of the Spatial Structure that Forms the Foundation of Urban Systems (Compact City)
VI Business Models for Urban Systems (Creation of Business Ecosystems that Can Accommodate Regional Diversity)

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