The Great East Japan Earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 had a significant impact on both the society and industry of Japan. It is now necessary to redesign the infrastructure that supports social and industrial activity and this infrastructure is reliant on IT/ICT technologies. The question that now needs answering is how this infrastructure be changed. The answer, however, is that success cannot be achieved without sufficient possibility and there is now an urgent need for measures and policies based on evidence-based research and development, a principle that has underpinned the research activities of the WIDE project since its foundation. This implies the design, construction and management of smart infrastructure, which will ensure sustainable growth and innovation. It is now clear that digital information communication systems that will serve as the nerve and brain center are essential for the development of this smart infrastructure. This has been understood to imply the reconstruction of new social and industrial infrastructure based on M2M (Machine-to-Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things).
WIDE project has been promoting research and development activities focused on transforming the Internet of the 20th Century, expressed as “IP for Everyone” and symbolized as an Internet platform to bring people together, which was the focus of research and development into the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6 (IP version 6) started towards the end of the 1990s, into an Internet for the 21st Century (IoT; Internet of Things) designed to connect all things and create a richer society. More specifically, we have been working on a range of projects, including the InternetCar project to link automobiles to the Internet, the RF-ID / Auto-ID project for object recognition and the Live E! and the Green University of Tokyo projects designed to link various sensors and actuators. While continuing to refine these activities, WIDE will also focus on new research and development projects in order to contribute to the realization of an Internet for the 21st Century, or IoT, to provide a link between all things, which is the ultimate goal of IPv6.
The theme at this year’s WIDE camp, held primarily for board members each summer, was big data. The objective of the camp was to enable WIDE project to acknowledge and understand the true nature of big data, conduct the necessary research and development and share information based on evidence. This evidence refers to valuable and new findings and new ways that were uncovered/created to utilize big data by drawing on our experiences from the Great East Japan Earthquake and collecting published data and putting this information to use to reconfirm and reaffirm that this knowledge gives way to practical innovation. From this is it possible to conclude that ever since its foundation up to the present, WIDE project has continued to address research and development and political themes in connection with big data and have recognized practical areas of application applicable at the time, conduct research and development into specific and practical applications and the element technology (practical and achievable technologies) required to bring these into fruition, and go one step further to implement and manage them.
WIDE project is comprised of members of diverse ages with approximately 40 years separating the youngest and the eldest. On the other hand, it has evolved over the years to include researchers from more conventional fields, such as computer hardware and software and telecommunications in addition to the more socially-oriented fields of law and finance. In order to continue and further develop the ultimate goal of WIDE project in integrating academia and industry into a unique consortium to help researchers with free and unrestrained innovation overcome the traditional boundaries of organizations and utilize new technologies to create a better society and achieve their own self-realization, it is essential that we promote further efforts and interaction between WIDE members and our sponsors and partners. In particular, our interaction with global organizations and social and government projects is increasing both in quantity and quality, and we feel that it is urgent that we establish the framework capable of addressing this change. One important characteristic of WIDE project is that approximately half of our members are comprised of university students and young researchers. It is these students and researchers who will form the core of our group and become the future leaders and architects of society in as little as 10 years. I believe that WIDE project must work towards developing a strategic, effective and cutting-edge OJT research and education environment through a coordinated effort with our sponsors, and domestic and international partners and as from the beginning of this year, we have started working on specific activities and discussions geared towards the establishment of this framework in order to make it happen.
WIDE project is operated as a consortium of academic and industrial partners. Our operational framework is free from government controls and as a result, we offer an environment to enable WIDE project members to conduct free and independent research that is not restricted to a particular research theme. In view of current international political debate, I feel it is in our best interest to show, as valuable evidence, our model to the rest of the world. By offering an environment geared towards practical and applied research, which differs to the objective-based research common to business organizations and fundamental research found in academic circles, which looks for creativity and originality, WIDE project has been able to achieve results, which go beyond conventional research institutions. This is a research model unique to WIDE and as a defining element, it is essential that we further develop and maintain this approach to our research.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to all those individuals and organizations that have supported the activities of WIDE project and to ask for your continued participation, cooperation, instruction and encouragement. With your help and cooperation, I am excited at the prospect of having this opportunity to work together with you all to discover new fields and strive towards the realization of safer, more secure social infrastructure.