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Smart City x Wellness Solving Social Issues

Smart City x Wellness Solving Social Issues

Smart City x Wellness Solving Social Issues

In the age of 100-year lifespans, the importance of wellness is increasing for city residents. In addition, the number of companies and startups whose business mission is to solve such social issues is increasing. In promoting the resolution of these social issues, the involvement of national and local governments will become even more important.
In this paper, we will introduce the current situation and future prospects of public and private efforts to solve wellness social issues.

1. What are wellness social issues?

The term “social issues” encompasses a wide variety of issues. In the context of smart cities, all issues are important and cannot be ranked against each other, but one of the issues that residents are familiar with is "wellness."
In 2015, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) defined wellness as “wellness as the active pursuit of activities that lead to overall health.” , choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health)” *1 .
Wellness is an important element for residents to live better lives based on their physical and mental health, and it is believed that solving wellness-related issues will lead to an increase in social value.
Also, from an economic point of view, the wellness market is growing, and according to GWI, it includes the healthcare market, clean energy market, etc. It is recognized as a large growth market *2 . In other words, wellness issues are emerging as market needs, and it means that the needs of residents to solve problems are increasing year by year.

2. Degree of involvement of national and local governments in solving social issues

The size of the economic market is a very important indicator for solving these wellness social issues. However, it would be nice if we could try to solve the problem only through market competition by private companies, but as far as the world's examples are concerned, it can be said that it is still limited.
The reason is that not all private companies that are involved in resolving wellness social issues are able to achieve high profits. Of course, as awareness of wellness is rising and the number of companies and startups aiming to solve these social issues is increasing, there are also companies that aim to improve physical and environmental health and achieve high profits. However, looking at wellness social issues in general, it seems difficult for private companies alone to succeed in both problem solving and profitability.
In such a situation, the role of the national and local governments will also become important. Just as the government and local governments have played an important role in promoting the actions of people and companies that will lead to a solution to the problem of global warming, in terms of solving wellness social issues, it is important to broaden the awareness of residents and promote the actions of companies. It is an important role of the national and local governments to encourage further participation and collaboration and cooperation with academic institutions.

3. Social enterprises and startups that contribute to solving wellness social issues

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers, criticism against companies that pursue only profit has increased, and the social significance of corporate activities is being questioned more and more. In the 2010s, "social enterprises" that achieve both social impact and corporate profits are attracting attention. The same kind of entrepreneurship is very active globally, but it is steadily increasing in Japan as well.
For example, there are an increasing number of startups that can contribute to resolving social issues related to the wellness of residents, not to mention environment-friendly clean and green startups. Every year, many startups that are directly linked to the resolution of wellness social issues appear, such as healthcare startups that aim for painless breast cancer screening, childcare support wellness startups that prepare childcare infrastructure, and wellness startups that help working women balance work and childcare. doing.
The main reason for this is that the entrepreneurs are highly sensitive to social issues and their corporate philosophy is based on a social mission.

4. Governments and local governments promoting wellness social solutions

Since the financial crisis, people's perspectives have gradually shifted from an overemphasis on profit. The involvement of the government and local governments will enable both residents and companies to more widely recognize the benefits of resolving social issues. In addition, as a result, the government and local governments themselves can also enjoy benefits, so it is thought that the involvement of the government and local governments is increasing.
In 2012, under the leadership of the Cameron administration, the United Kingdom promoted social impact investment on a scale of 100 billion yen through contributions from dormant bank accounts at financial institutions and investments from major British banks. We have achieved compatibility between As you may know, in Japan, too, local governments have created social impact investment funds. Promoting impact investment, (1) Accelerating the flow of new finance that tackles social issues through public-private partnerships, and (2) Improving the “wellness of residents” to create a society where everyone can live a vibrant life both physically and mentally. We aim to contribute to two things.
In addition to that, various cities and municipalities in Japan are increasing the establishment of funds related to wellness social issues (including at the planning stage). It can be said that the movement toward solving wellness social issues by the public and private sectors is beginning to accelerate in Japan as well.

5. Future Prospects as a Smart City

Smart cities use new technologies such as ICT to solve various problems faced by cities and regions and continue to create new value through advanced management (planning, development, management and operation, etc.). , is a sustainable city or region and is defined as a place for the advanced realization of Society 5.0. Compared to conventional cities, smart cities will further promote the resolution of social issues, including wellness, through ICT. Of course, many of the recent wellness social problem-solving startups are premised on the use of new technologies such as AI and data, and it is possible to promote further problem-solving by linking with the technology and data of the smart city itself.
The more services provided by companies and startups are used to improve the wellness of residents, the more wellness-related data will be accumulated in smart cities, and the technology will be able to evolve further. In smart cities, by promoting this virtuous cycle of data/technology/wellness improvement in public and private sectors, it should be possible to solve social issues and benefit both public and private sectors and residents.