If you are visiting Osaka this month, you might want to try out the new #ArigatoGuide, a volunteer-matching project that’s undergoing field testing at JR Osaka Station through August 31.
Supported by Dai Nippon Printing Company, West Japan Railway Company, and Mirairo Inc, the project helps to connect people in need (wheelchairs users, parents with strollers, elderly people, foreign tourists, or people who are not familiar with Osaka Station) with supporters (volunteers). The field test utilises LINE as the communication tool and LINE Beacon for location tracking to match supporters with those who need help.
Supporters can give the situation of the person who needs help through a chatbot and take concrete action. Last December 2017, the first field test of “Smart Maternity Mark” a movement to offer seats to pregnant woman, was conducted and led to a seatgiving rate of 86 per cent.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approaching, more infrastructure is needed to support the rising number of foreign tourists. #ArigatoGuide project is expected to relieve the workloads of train station workers and wait times at different tourist information centres by introducing the force of local volunteers.
How to Use #ArigatoGuide
1. Register '&HAND' account
To participate in the field test, add the '&HAND' account as a friend on LINE. When adding, you can select to be on either the “side that needs help” or the “supporter side” and register.
2. Matching supporters with for support request
When someone who has added the '&HAND' LINE account enters the designated area at JR Osaka Station, a message will be sent automatically from &HAND account to inform the user that they have entered the target area from LINE's chatbot. Those who are in need of assistance can put out a request for support and supporters in the same area will receive help requests through LINE. The chatbot will also send over the type of assistance needed while guiding the supporter to the location where the person who made the request is located. This chatbot operates in Japanese and English so it can be used by both locals and foreigners visiting Japan.