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Osaka Prefecture and NEC conclude a business partnership to promote Smart City initiatives

— Enhancing ICT utilization to prepare for the second wave of COVID-19 —

Osaka & Tokyo, July 21, 2020 — Osaka Prefecture and NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) jointly announced today that they have signed a business partnership agreement with the aim of promoting Smart City initiatives to prepare for the second wave of COVID-19.

From left: Hirofumi Yoshimura, Governor of Osaka Prefecture,
and Chikara Nakamata, Executive Vice President, NEC Corporation

In April 2020, Osaka Prefecture established the Department of Smart City Strategy and has been working to improve convenience for Osaka Prefecture residents through the utilization of ICT (Information Communication Technology). In preparation for the second wave of COVID-19 infections, Osaka Prefecture is promoting partnerships with ICT companies and organizations toward the encouragement of new behaviors, with the aim of strengthening response capabilities in the administrative fields for health care, education, commerce, and industry.

In order to counter the second wave of COVID-19 spread, Osaka Prefecture and NEC will be committed to maintaining an administrative environment based on the use of ICT through the partnership to promote Smart City initiatives, especially increasing coping abilities in implementing measures against COVID-19, finding solutions for issues in local communities, improving the work of the Osaka Prefectural office, and distributing information.

NEC has provided Osaka Prefecture with a solution that automates responses to Osaka residents' inquiries about the OSAKA COVID-19 Tracing System (*1) using an AI Chatbot, NEC Auto Response Solution (*2). The AI Chatbot utilizes Textual Entailment Recognition Technology (*3), one of the cutting-edge AI technologies under NEC the WISE (*4). NEC's AI Chatbot enables a chat-type automatic response, whereby the citizens of Osaka can easily send inquiries for consultation via smartphones or PCs anytime and anywhere.

In combination with FAQs on the homepage of Osaka Prefecture, the AI Chatbot has reduced telephone inquiries by 99.5% and thus minimized the number of call center operators required.

With continued accumulation of AI learning data, further utilization of the AI Chatbot is expected to improve the business operations throughout the Osaka Prefectural office.

Osaka Prefecture and NEC will take advantage of state-of-the-art ICT technologies such as AI to work toward the improvement of services for Osaka residents, including taking measures against COVID-19, in order to realize Smart City goals.


  • (*1)
    OSAKA COVID-19 Tracing System:
    This system allows people with potential exposure to COVID-19 to be traced. For the facilities or event venues where many people have gathered, an alert e-mail can be sent to customers who registered with QR codes if someone who used the same facility has become infected with the virus. It aims for behavior modifications and early detection of the potential occurrence of clusters to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • (*2)
  • (*3)
    Textual Entailment Recognition Technology:
    A technology to determine whether two sentences have the same meaning. This prevents sentences containing different words but having the same meaning from being omitted.
  • (*4)
    NEC the WISE

    NEC's cutting-edge portfolio of AI technologies
    Press release:
    NEC announces new AI technology brand, "NEC the WISE"

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