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Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University

Dept. of Social Informatics

Harmonizing Society and Information Technology
Global networking is rapidly expanding via information technology. Based upon the trends of technologies, which penetrate our daily lives, the Department of Social Informatics seeks to clarify the structures of highly complex information societies and actually design information systems that are useful for the world. Therefore, we endeavor to support the globalized activities of humans in the areas of culture, economics, ecology, disaster management, healthcare and education.

Education for Innovation

Place where findings and inspiration are triggered by interaction across people from different disciplines, resulting in innovation

Observe, listen, discuss, and achieve it

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Education Program

In the first year of master students, students are provided with specialized subjects about how to design and analyze the information system, and the relationship between the information and society. They can acquire the fundamental informatics from basics through these subjects, and even the students who had less experience about informatics can produce achievement by combining the informatics and their expertise. In addition, we have more than 50 special lectures a year in our department, for which we invite lecturers from various universities, research institutes or government offices.

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FBL / PBL

The department of social informatics joins Kyoto University Design School, in which students take a subject 'FBL (Field based Learning)/ PBL (Problem based Learning)' that is helpful to train skills for finding and solving real-world problems. In this subject, students select one of the variety of themes, and form a small group to tackle the same problem. The themes include 'Designing a new environment for education: creating a place that fosters creativity', 'Design of places for conversation through books and tea', and 'Organization design in crowd-sourcing'.

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Design School

Kyoto University Summer Design School arose from activities mainly led by the department of social informatics, and has become a seasonal tradition in summer attracting more than 250 participants together into the same place. Over 20 different kinds of themes were proposed from companies and universities, and were tackled by many students to solve real-world problems: they went on the field, and took trial and error by actually creating prototypes. The department of social informatics proposed themes such as 'Predicting Kyoto in 2050 by simulation' and 'Design of safety of apartment buildings: mainly focusing on disaster prevention'.

Education for Globalization

Acquire a wide viewpoint by interacting with different cultures, fluently communicate your idea in English

In the department of social informatics, there are foreign students from the variety of countries, and a lot of opportunities to communicate and know different cultures in international events.

The department of social informatics and Berlitz together developed teaching materials, which have been used in 'Strategic communication seminar'. Students in the department of social informatics can take the focused English lecture presented by lecturers from Berlitz.

Research Activities Contributing to Society

The department of social informatics has been addressing various kinds of problems in modern society by means of information technologies: big data analysis, supporting intercultural collaboration, environment preservation by sensor information analysis, assistance of health maintenance by physiological signal data analysis, education on information ethics, information security, storing and sharing medical information, and local and disaster prevention information systems.

Study information systems by visiting places where they are actually used

Nagahama Heatlh Walk Project

Medical Informatics

Although obtaining healthy habit is the silver bullet to prevent lifestyle related diseases, obtaining it is hard business. The research team, consists of Kyoto University, Ritsumeikan University, Kinki University, and the city of Nagahama, organize walking even named “Nagahama Health Walk”. People pay the fee to participate the event as a team of five. When the walking distance of the team exceeds the given target distance, the team wins the right to participate lottery where they may win certain commodities such as travel coupon. Follow-up questionnaire found that the most of participants of the event held in 2014 succeed to obtain walking habit. 2015, more than one thousand people, more than twice as much as previous year, participated the event. Follow-up study to observe health conditions of participants with metabolic syndrome is undergoing.

Rinrin Hime Project: Development and Management of Multilingual Online Learning Contents on Information Ethics

Information Fluency Education

There are three problems in the information ethics education in universities: (1) it has not been standardized or visualized yet; (2) it cannot be used for educating foreign students; and (3) it is not sustainable. Our laboratory, in collaboration with National Institute of Informatics, has been developing e-learning contents called RinRin Hime that is compliant to sample regulations for protecting information security in institutions of higher education, and is localized into Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. RinRin Hime was first provided to universities that belong to GakuNinMoodle in November 2012, and has been accessed by 27,840 users (90,283 logins) from 102 institutes including Kyoto University (32 national universities, 15 private universities, 52 national higher professional school, and 3 other institutes) as of September 5, 2015. Thus, RinRin Hime has become a workable project that contributes to the improvement of information ethics education in various kinds of institutes.

HealthWalk: An Information System for Pedestrian Navigation

Distributed Information Systems

Along with the advance of population aging, health care equipments and services for old people have attracted attention. Our project focus on assisting the going out by walking for old people. We propose a novel Pedestrian Navigation System. The system collects real-time vital sign data, such as heart rate, of a pedestrian during walking, using small wearable sensors. Spatio-temporal information is also collected along with the sensing data using GPS functions. The system then recommends stressless walking routes for each pedestrian based on the analysis of personal and crowd vital sign data in the context of location and time. A new differential privacy mechanism for pedestrian is also investigated.

Endangered Mekong giant catfish: Acoustic telemetry solves the mystery of the giant catfish's ecology to support its conservation and sustainable fishery

Biosphere Informatics

The Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world with maximum 3 m body length and 300 kg body weight. This species was previously distributed widely in the Mekong river, but its number has declined recently because of anthropogenic effects, such as dam development and overexploitation. As a result, this species is listed as endangered species on the IUCN red list and the CITES Appendix I. On the other hand, artificial breeding and rearing techniques for this species have been established; therefore, stock enhancement is expected by releasing hatchery-reared fish to closed water. Understanding the behaviors and ecology of released fish is required in Thailand. We started researching behaviors and ecology of Mekong giant catfish at the request of the Department of Fisheries in Thailand. Ultrasonic transmitters were attached to the fish, and their movements and behaviors were tracked by boats or receivers settled underwater. The results indicated that the fish swam actively within a relatively small range during daytime, whereas they were less active during nighttime. This research will contribute to stock enhancement and sustainable use of Mekong giant catfish.

The Language Grid for Agricultural Support in Vietnam

Global Information Network

This research aims at providing timely knowledge on rice farming to Vietnamese farmers by Japanese agriculture experts. Since the literacy rate of farmers is low, youths act as mediators between Vietnamese farmers and Japanese agriculture who are from University of Tokyo, Tokyo University of Agriculture, and Mie University. During 2011-2014, we spent 16 months to conduct four experiments in Thien My Commune and Dong Thanh Commune, Vinh Long Province, in cooperation with NPO Pangaea, Vietnam MARD and Vinh Long Province. In the experiments, Youths take photos of the paddy and collect information of local temperature, insects and diseases in the rice plant. Based on the collected information, Youths go to the education center in their commune and communicate with Japanese agriculture experts through a web-based multi-language communication system. The Language Grid, which is a service-oriented language infrastructure we developed for intercultural collaboration, is used for supporting multi-language communication in this research.

Department of Social Informatics, Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University