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The Foundation of Digital Government

Digitalization of government often refers an individual project but should include on-going projects. Our city has been building the foundation that allows us to digitalize pubic services simultaneously. Shibuya collects city data and make it open so that innovators could collaborate with us. Secondly we educate our people. Shibuya provides digital devices to children and senior citizens. Thirdly, we let startups to test their product in the city. Finally we will institutionalize the actions.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Japan is the least digitalized country among the developed nations. For instance, people physically need to go to city hall or governmental institutions to obtain most of the official documents. Shibuya is one of the most famous cities in Japan. Even if you have never been to Japan, you may have seen Shibuya's famous scramble crossing. Shibuya has been supported by many young people as a mecca of Japanese pop culture. Shibuya was one of the first in Japan to digitize administrative services, such as applying for a resident's card with a smartphone. In order to accelerate these movements, we are creating a foundation for digitization in order to promote digitization over the long term, regardless of individual projects.

First, we started a project called Co-Creation Hub as a foundation for digitalization. The Co-Creation Hub collects and publishes data accumulated by the government and data within the city. This makes it easier to collaborate with external organizations that generate innovation, such as large companies, startups, and universities. The Co-Creation Hub has just started and does not have a lot of data, but it publishes information such as the locations of shops accessible to people with walking disabilities, public bus routes and the number of users. We believe that these data are essential for creating innovations that have the potential to enrich the activities of people who do business and live in the city.

Digitization requires that its users have the literacy to use the latest services. We solve this problem by giving children tablets and providing them with technology education. In addition, we distribute smartphones to the elderly and offer lectures on how to use smartphones. If there are few people who can use the services that have become more convenient after digitization, it will be meaningless. We aim to provide administrative services that leave no one behind.

Even if issues and data are visualized, services cannot develop unless there is a foundation for trying out new initiatives. Shibuya offers a proof of concept program called "Innovation for New Normal." Startups can try their new services and products developed in the city. Over 1,000 Shibuya residents have registered as testers and will try out the startup's products. Through this program, nearly 50 startups have tested their products in Shibuya and grown their businesses. Some of these services have been officially adopted by Shibuya city, and the diaper delivery service to nursery schools has been introduced to all nursery schools in Shibuya city to support the child-rearing generation.

While creating the foundation for innovation, individual projects are also progressing in Shibuya city. Residents can receive various public services using the messaging app "LINE." The digital local currency “Hachi-pay” will be launched in earnest this autumn, and is expected to promote local economy and serve as a driving force for social activities. Such individual innovative projects are expected to serve as tools for collecting data for use in the next innovation.For example, in the example of Hachi-pay, it can be a way to know what kind of people visit Shibuya and make purchases in Shibuya, and it can be a useful data for innovation and business. A Shibuya city's project that provides tablets children can collect both learning and health data of children and could use the data for mental care and learning support for children, but these data also lead to innovation that improves education.

Innovation cannot come from government. Government can only create a foundation. Innovation in administrative services requires a mechanism to involve private companies such as startups. In Shibuya, we have formed a consortium called "Shibuya Startup Deck" to create innovation through public-private partnerships, and are creating projects through public-private partnerships. For example, in recent years, banks in Japan have tightened their screening process when new companies, such as startups, open corporate accounts. Shibuya has created a mechanism that can be done in one week in cooperation with the bank. In such way, we are creating a system that supports innovation together with companies.

We are working on creating a new organization to unify those activities that create the foundation for public innovations. In 2029, we will launch a new organization in a landmark skyscraper in front of Shibuya Station. For this reason, we are currently working with various actors such as corporations, non-profit organizations, and experts to create a new organization that will serve as a fountain of innovation. We believe that these efforts can contribute to local governments around the world.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The reason why Shibuya is unique is that it does not focus on the digitization of just one service, but creates a foundation for the future in which government services are digitized simultaneously. For that reason, it is unique not only to extract data and issues, but also to frequently provide opportunities for education and training to residents so that they can respond to digitalization. In addition, We are taking measures to retain a large number of excellent human resources.

What is the current status of your innovation?

For example, the extraction and publication of data are ongoing, and the process of digitizing and publishing new data that emerges from government services on a daily basis is ongoing. This activity is never-ending. Digital education for the young and the elderly is also a never-ending continuum. Last year, Shibuya started a startup visa program, and so far, 21 companies and close to 30 talented people from overseas have been invited to Shibuya. This kind of movement is essential for Shibuya to become a city of innovation in the future.

We get data from the digitization of government services. As new digitized services become available, there will be more ways to obtain data. Many official documents are currently available online. In order to finally organize these movements, a cross-sectional task force is currently being formed within the office, and this task force is collaborating with residents, private companies, universities, and experts to create an organization.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

All the following actors were involved:

  • Citizens
  • Government officials
  • Civil society organizations
  • Private Companies
  • Startups
  • Universities

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

  • Citizens: Residents will be recipients of digitized services, but they are also friends who provide data and classmates who learn digitization together.
  • Government officials: Since Shibuya Ward is a municipality, it does not have any authority. For this reason, collaboration with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese government is essential in promoting advanced initiatives.
  • Private Companies/Startups/Universities: They bring us innovation/idea.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

With respect to the case of Digital Innovation, of the 43,000 people aged 65 and over in Shibuya Ward, one in four does not own a smartphone. In this project, smartphones were provided to 1,413 people, and 1,748 people participated in the smartphone training. The training is not just about how to use it, but also training on how to use brain training apps. Through the service for the elderly, we were able to obtain various data such as proficiency level regarding the use of smartphones by the elderly. More than 80% answered that using smartphones had a positive impact on their lives.

In the tablet supply project for junior high school students and younger, we supply tablets to over 7,000 students every year. How to use the tablet We monitor students' psychological conditions not only from their bank accounts but also from search results, and if they feel they are in danger, they quickly connect them to an expert to prevent suicide.

Challenges and Failures

With respect to the case of Collecting Data, extracting administrative service data and issues is one of the most difficult tasks. Many of the staff at the city office do not have high data literacy. Therefore, they do not understand what can be used as data for innovation. In addition, it is often not possible to look at the issues of administrative services objectively, and it is not going well. In order to overcome this problem, Shibuya is also conducting digital education for staff. However, the situation is unlikely to change rapidly, and this is a long-term issue.

Conditions for Success

With “zero visitors” as a keyword, we aim to create a system where residents can receive all the administrative services without having to visit the city office. As for the means of making administrative procedures online, we have been considering using tools that people are familiar with and placing as little burden on residents as possible. Under such circumstances, we pay attention to LINE, which is used by many people. After concluding an agreement with LINE, we opened an official account in 2017.

Currently, about 30 functions have been implemented, such as applications for resident cards and tax certificates, and reservations for various courses and interviews. As a result, residents can now easily make various applications and reservations with a single smartphone. Within the city, there are many reports of work efficiency improvements, such as "more than half of reservations are made LINE, and the burden of answering phone calls has been reduced."


Administrative services using LINE are spreading to many local governments after our case become successful. In Japan, many administrative agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Kumamoto City, Fukuoka City, and Amagasaki City have started using it.

Lessons Learned

With respect to the case of digital education, we have provided digital education and training to many seniors. The important thing here is that education for the elderly toward digitalization is analog. It has to be done slowly and patiently with lots of technicians. Let's start with how to turn on the smartphone. Some of our seniors were 102 years old. They forget they even signed up for digital education. Omitting the process of patient education and training in promoting digitalization has the potential to leave vulnerable people such as the young and the elderly behind.


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

18 January 2023

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