The Japanese government will start developing an evacuation guidance app for mobile phones, tablets and other devices next fiscal year.
The new app will automatically show users evacuation routes to help spectators at large stadiums evacuate without getting lost, in the case of natural disasters or terrorist attacks.
As many foreigners will visit Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government plans to have the new app cover about 50 venues for these events and be available in multiple languages.
Users would download the app in advance and choose their desired language.
Should a disaster occur, the app would receive a signal to activate and guide spectators from their current locations to somewhere safer, such as outside the stadiums, by displaying maps and providing audio guidance. For wheelchair users, the app will be equipped with a function to introduce evacuation routes that do not involve stairs.
The aim is to put the app into practical use by September 2019, when the rugby championship starts.
The government is considering giving the app additional nonemergency functions, such as allowing users to check the congestion of parking lots and to buy items at stalls without paying in cash.
If an incident occurs at a sports venue, the app is intended to address the confusion that would arise as spectators rush to exits.
Measures to guide evacuation are often left up to the operators of individual facilities, which are not equipped to deal with international events.
“To help each individual spectator evacuate, an app would be best,” said a senior official of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry in charge of developing the app.
In addition, in the case of large-scale disasters, visiting foreigners might need to be taken to hospitals by ambulance or could be forced to take refuge for prolonged periods.
To ease the language barrier ahead of the Olympics, the government is developing automatic speech-translation technology.
Through this new tech, combined with the planned evacuation app, the government hopes to show the world its ability to deal with unexpected situations.