TOKYO -- The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone group will go nationwide with a project that aims to lift tourism and other industries by tracking users of its smartphone app and free public Wi-Fi networks.
The Japanese telecommunications giant offers an app providing foreign visitors with information on tourist destinations, covering pilot zones in Kyushu in southern Japan and Hokkaido in the country's north. The app will be revamped and expanded to include the entire country. A Thai-language version will be rolled out alongside English, Chinese and Korean options.
New features will be added, such as a tool presenting travelers with optimal sightseeing routes. Security against leaks of personal information will be tightened, and collected data will be processed to provide anonymity.
Pushing the application and expanding its public Wi-Fi hot spot network will let NTT collect location information from users' smartphones to track the overall flow of tourists. The company is considering sharing that information with municipalities, beginning with the cities of Fukuoka and Sapporo, its partners in last year's pilot. The technology is seen being extended later to other fields including disaster prevention, health care and transportation.
Other major Japanese telecoms are pursuing similar efforts. SoftBank soon will offer a service analyzing foreign tourists' destinations and the amount of time spent at each location. Wire and Wireless, a KDDI subsidiary providing public Wi-Fi, began letting clients view aggregated distribution and demographic information on foreign users of its applications in December.