Creating a Safe and Secure Living Environment in the Changing Public and Private Spheres (2015-)

PUBLIC NEEDS

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Hajime YAMADA
Emeritus Professor, Toyo University/Chair of the Board, Information Communication Policy Forum

In recent years in Japan, the number of officially recognized crimes has declined. On the other hand, cases where victims experience ongoing violence in places such as home, workplace or school, as well as bullying and criminal events

deriving from relationships in cyberspace, have come to the fore and become a new type of problems especially in terms of safety and security in the society. Also, while there is a decline in accidents which occur in public spaces such as traffic accidents, there is an increasing number of domestic accidents such as falls and drowning. In such cases, problems are manifesting themselves in private spaces and relationships which are hard to discover or intervene in from the outside.

The background for why these problems are becoming apparent involves changes in social structure--such as smaller and older households, isolation of individuals from the local community, dissemination/growth of the Internet and social media, and the transformation of private and public spheres brought on by such changes. Also the inability of existing safety functions (prevention/support functions provided by the legal system, public agencies, households and the local community) to fully cope with these changes may play a part. The conventional approach was to leave the private sphere to self-help and self-determination, but there are rising public concern and awareness of human rights, and social support and intervention are gradually expanding at a variety of levels. A need has arisen for R&D to contribute to early discovery and solution of the primary causes of harm infliction/victimization in the private sphere, and the associated risks, by using science and technology such as sensors and robots. From the perspective of social support, the relationship between the private and public spheres is changing.

On the other hand, there are also cases where institutions such as the legal system act as a barrier to providing social support.

Furthermore, there is progress in the transformation toward realization of a more desirable super-cyber society and the integration of cyberspace and real-world space, as indicated in the discussions for the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan by the Council for Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). This process in the policy has a strong relationship with changes in personal space, relationships and concepts of privacy. At the same time, it is expected that, from the technological side, approaches such as using big data analysis technology will facilitate the prediction and discovery of incidents and accidents, etc.

Therefore, in this R&D focus area, we are promoting R&D to contribute, through public/personal cooperation, to the discovery of harms and accidents in spaces/relationships which are difficult to discover or intervene in, and to the creation of mechanisms and associated activities which enable reduction and prevention of such problems by prediction, intervention and aftercare.

GOALS:

 Specific goals in this focus area are as follows:
(1) To propose new methods to contribute to the reduction and prevention of harms and accidents by prediction, intervention and aftercare in spaces and relationships which are difficult to discover and intervene in. These new methods will be proposed based on actual problems and needs brought on by the trend toward smaller and older households, and the transformation of the private sphere due to the expansion of cyberspace.
(2) To derive and propose systems and policies for reducing harms and accidents in difficult-to-find or hard-to-intervene spaces and relationships from the R&D results. The feasibility of proposed systems will also be presented.
(3) To build a network for sharing ideas and approaches relating to adoption of these methods, aiming to ensure that the presented efforts and measures are continually implemented in order to integrate them with social systems,.

Message from the Area Director

As structural changes occur in society, such as the trend toward smaller and older households with fewer children, isolation of individuals from the local community, and dissemination of social media, there is an increasing number of incidents and accidents in personal spaces and relationships. " Creating a Safe and Secure Living Environment in the Changing Public and Private Spheres " is a new R&D focus area started in fiscal 2015 based on an awareness of the issue of these incidents and accidents.

R&D is being conducted on specific events such as Cyberbullying or abuse, and many results have been accumulated. However, there has not really been active cross-sectional R&D which might find the background of these various events, common points of remedial measures, and shared institutional problems which hinder remediation. In addition, even if measures are possible from the standpoint of the legal system, customary practices at the location, or the mindsets of people that nothing can really be done may interfere with the creation of safer living. In cases of child abuse, the reason why close collaboration between child consultation centers and the police does not adequately move forward may be because there are institutional bottlenecks in the respective organizations. Many events which occur in personal relationships and spaces are sensitive, and thus there is a need to protect personal information. On the other hand, there may be a need to share personal information between many involved parties.

Taking such issues into consideration, in this focus area we place public and personal at two ends of the spectrum, focus on the role played by the "margin" between those extremes, and attempt to create new approaches for public/personal cooperation in this "margin." Key R&D topics are how to appropriately intervene while taking privacy into account, and what sort of function should be assigned to the "margin." We expect to see progress in R&D on various direct and indirect approaches in the " margin " such as daily life monitoring with information and communications technology, casual verbal interaction between neighboring residents, and information sharing between involved persons, and this should contribute to the creation of safe living.

R&D Projects

FY2015

  • Research and policy of parental support systems to prevent child maltreatment (3 yrs.)
    Kumi KURODA [Team Leader, Laboratory for Affiliative Social Behavior, RIKEN Brain Science Institute]
  • Promotion of Multi‐Agency Cooperation by Visualization of the Police Intervention Process in Criminal Cases in Homes and Schools (3 yrs.)
    Masahiro TAMURA [Director, Institute for Criminal Justice, Kyoto Sangyo University]
  • Developing social network for safe and autonomous economic activities of older people (3 yrs.)
    Jin NARUMOTO[Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine]
  • Development and Provision of a Training Program to Foster the Use of Forensic Interviews by Multidisciplinary Team (3 yrs.)
    Makiko NAKA [Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University]
  • Development of prevention and early-intervention system for child maltreatment using the database of nationwide survey (3 yrs.)
    Nobuaki MORITA [Associate professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba]