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IT Award Awarded for Smart Road Surface Inspection Service Initiative and Other Initiatives that Use AI to Solve Social Problems

NTT COMWARE CORPORATION (Head office: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Satoshi Kurishima; hereinafter, "NTT COMWARE") was awarded the 2020 IT Award (Area: Social Problem Solving)*1 presented by the Japan Institute of Information Technology (hereinafter, "IT Institute") for the initiative to provide the Smart Road Surface Inspection Service, together with Nichireki Co., Ltd. (Head office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Manabu Obata) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (Head office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; President: Fukuzo Inoue).
NTT COMWARE also received IT Honorable Mentions*2 for effectivization of development tasks in large-scale revisions by the in-house DX promotion team Future Lab and building and using SustainableBOT, a chatbot for work under the new normal.

IT Award (Area: Social Problem Solving)
Initiative to provide the Smart Road Surface Inspection Service*3


[Motivation for the award]
Advancing dilapidation of public infrastructure has come to be viewed as a major social problem. Because the roads built during the period of rapid economic growth have deteriorated at the same time, it has become difficult to provide maintenance and repairs at both the national and the local levels.
Road surface inspections using road surface measuring vehicles with existing technologies have been expensive. This has meant that road surface inspections have not been sufficiently conducted on community roads, thus making it difficult to do repair works in a suitable order. The delaying of road works has led to higher maintenance costs and a vicious circle of tightening budgets for maintenance and repairs.
This initiative has three features.
Firstly, road surface companies, telecommunication carriers, and systems integrators (NTT COMWARE) haved worked together and combined their respective technologies to create service processes that did not exist before. This has facilitated drastic functional reforms for all three steps of road surface inspections: advance surveys, measuring, and analysis.
Secondly, the results have been massive. As a result of this initiative, it has become possible to cut the total cost for road surface inspections by 60%. This means that the same budget can be used to more than double road surface inspections, and the early and steady detection of sites in need of repair has reduced the need for emergency and trailing construction work and facilitated systematic maintenance work. This has massive spillover effects since it makes it possible to reduce maintenance and repair budgets.
Thirdly, replacing earlier road surface inspection techniques with IT has not only boosted efficiency but also generated the novel idea of a new assessment standard that uses image recognition AI technology and measuring knowhow. This is emblematic of the initiative's innovative character that is not restrained by conventional technologies. This new assessment standard is expected to allow for the formulation more predictive and more systematic road maintenance and repair plans, thus benefitting road managers greatly in the future.
Taking the above into account, the IT Award in the area of social problem solving was awarded in recognition of the effectiveness and originality of this initiative.

IT Honorable Mention (Area: Management)
Effectivization of development tasks in large-scale revisions by the in-house DX promotion team Future Lab


[Motivation for the award]
The in-house DX promotion team Future Lab was established with the aim of realizing a smart world, which is a goal in the NTT Group's medium-term management plan. The Future Lab is working to facilitate a resource shift to acquire the latest technologies needed for a digital transformation (DX) and develop a DX vision for the sake of automating and effectivizing development tasks. They have been able to reduce uptime and improve product quality by automating organizational management and trialing of key systems, introducing AI into trouble ticket analysis, and quality visualization using 4D visualization technology.
The IT Honorable Mention was awarded in recognition of the effects achieved through the promotion of DX for effectivizing development tasks.

IT Honorable Mention (Area: Responses to New Lifestyles)
Building and using SustainableBOT, a chatbot for work under the new normal


[Motivation for the award]
As we are undergoing rapid changes in work styles with the general shift to remote work during the corona pandemic, a user-friendly system using a chatbot was set up to facilitate tasks that come from systems and arrangements that were not designed with remote work in mind as well as tasks like making applications and sharing daily work status information between superior and subordinate levels. This was tested and promoted for in-house use.
The IT Honorable Mention was awarded in recognition of these initiatives since many companies share this challenge of managing and supporting employees as they are teleworking.

NTT COMWARE will continue to work to engage in social problem solving that use AI and ICT as well as contribute to the realization of a sustainable society.


[Terminology]
*1: The IT Award, presented by the Japan Institute of Information Technology, goes to a company, organization, institute, or individual who made a remarkable effort in business innovation using advanced IT technologies, such as business creation in Japan's industrial fields and administrative agencies, construction and promotion of effective business models, or productivity improvement. It is in its 38th year since the first award in 1983.
IT Award : https://www.jiit.or.jp/im/award.html

*2: The IT Honorable Mention is presented by the Japan Institute of Information Technology for results with recognized future prospects and potential for development.

*3: Effectivizing the Maintenance Cycle for Pavement Managed by Local Governments- Inexpensive and High-Performance Smart Road Surface Inspection Service Using AI and IoT Launched on August 1st (July 28, 2020 press release)
https://www.nttcom.co.jp/english/news/en20072801.html

* Other company names, product names, and service names are trademarks or registered trademarks of each company.

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