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[IoT for whom?]

In the last issue of this Tokyo Dayori, Ms. Shirakura told about her
lessons learned with JR (railway company). Here is another cautionary
tale from me. My story is about a power company.

Last summer I found a piece of paper in my mailbox. It was from the
power company I contracted with, and it said “We have replaced your
electricity meter with a smart meter”.  I was delighted with it and
thought to myself, “IoT has finally come to my house! I can use HEMS
(Home Energy Management System). I can reduce my energy cost!”

Retail sale of electric power in Japan was deregulated in April 2016.
Since then many new energy companies has emerged and tried to seize this
huge business opportunity.  Their success is totally depended on
digitalization, i.e. replacement of conventional mechanical meters with
smart meters. That is why power companies have been doing the
replacement work these years throughout Japan, with a view to completing
it by 2023.  With the smart meter installed in my house, now I expected
I could check my electricity usage online in more detail and have
various choices to save my energy cost.

Soon after that, power companies repeatedly sent me ads for promotion of
new rate plans. I visited the website of one of those and checked if my
monthly electricity charge could be cheaper.  There was a self-service
simulation page in that site. I input our daily usage patterns by
replying each query on the web, and finally found out that one plan
automatically offered by the web would reduce my electricity charges by
10 to 20%. “Great. This is really nice.” I decided to take this new
plan on the spot. After quickly looking through terms and conditions, I
applied to the plan from the web. An email message from the company was
sent immediately to me, which confirmed my application was accepted.
Since then I did not receive any letter or card from the company about
the new contract. No phone calls, no emails to re-confirm the contracted

A few months later, the power company sent me a bill for the first month
of this new plan. I was  surprised to see the amount was much higher
than before.  I made a phone call to the customer service of the company
and complained that something should be wrong with the calculation of
the charge.  The customer service said she would come back to me after
checking what happened.

Some days later, I got a call from the customer service. She said their
calculation was correct and the new plan I selected made the charge
higher.  I claimed that I selected the cheapest plan according to the
recommendation in their web simulation.  However, she replied,
“We checked what you did in our self-service simulation, and found your
selection did not include the late-night power option. Without the
option, your choice is the cheapest. That is the reason why the amount
charged got higher in total.”  Then I realized I had contracted the
midnight power for electric boiler in the previous plan and it did not
appear on the web simulation. I insisted that those options should be
included in the simulation.  The customer service responded,
“Sorry, but all the terms and conditions were clearly displayed in the
simulation including exceptions, so we cannot cancel.”  I said,
“You should know our actual usage from the smart meter, shouldn’t you ?”
She said, “No, we have not started to utilize the data for each
household yet….”

After a long dispute over the phone, I admitted I overlooked the
conditions, and the customer service agreed to change my rate plan to a
new one that is really cheaper even with the late-night power option.  I
pointed out their web simulation was a flaw and strongly requested them
to re-design it and also send customers terms and conditions on the
paper.  She regretfully agreed.  I got totally exhausted.  I really felt
sorry that I relied too much on the automated web service.

The lessons I learned from this experience (from a service provider
point of view) are:

1. Web self-service portal must be designed and operated very carefully

2. You cannot hurry digitalization too much (face-to-face communication is still important and costs less in some cases)

3. IoT should come up to users’ expectation. (Introducing smart meters must be benefit of customers, not only for service providers)

Let’s see how the power company will improve.

Hirohiko SHIAKU(Mr.)

<<Topics of Government>>

1)Reports of Status of the Occurrence of Acts of Unauthorized Computer
Access, and Progress of Research and Development on Technology relating
to Access Control Features Are Compiled

(2)The Fifth IoT Lab Selection Held

(3)METI and the IoT Acceleration Lab to Hold a Joint Event
Finalists for the IoT Lab Selection event determined

<<Topics of Industries and others>>

(1)Tech stocks pull Nikkei Asia300 Index lower after Wall Street selloff

(2)Samsung, Fujitsu give Macron's AI plan a boost with Paris R&D hubs's-ai-plan-a-boost-with-paris-r-d-hubs

(3)What Japan can do about its online fraud problem, according to this security expert

[Inconvenience in the convenient modern digital society]

The Japanese Government announced “The New Tourism Nation Promotion
Basic Plan”.[1] in 2012. The plan clearly wrote “Number of visitors to
Japan from other countries will increase to 18 million by 2016”, aiming
at the long-term target of an increase to 25 million by the beginning of 2020.

[Current status of taxi dispatch service in Japan]

After the Rugby World Cup to be held in 2019 towards the Tokyo Olympics
and Paralympic Games in 2020, it is expected that the number of tourists
visiting Japan will reach 40 million. And it seems that improving the
convenience of their transportation will be one of the big issues for
the tourists as well.

Cyber-attacks on companies and others that have recently become popular.
What is pointed out as an increasing background is the existence of
a dark site where "hacking tools" and "personal information" etc. are
being sold.

Thanks for your paying attention to and support for me.

Dear Gentle persons

I am Kazuki Yasui, taking care of Research & Information Division.
This year, we have not so many rainy days so far, but it is said that we
will have terribly hot summer.
This is my 4th " Tokyo Dayori" , and also my final one. I will quit NEC
Corporation soon, and will terminate my assignment for CICC, too. I
appreciate your attention for my "Tokyo Dayori", and support for CICC’s


I live in Kanagawa prefecture next to Tokyo. Yokohama city is the
biggest and most famous city in Kanagawa.

A new School term starts on April 1st in Japan.
I work for PTA(Parent-Teacher Association) activities for the first
time in 10 years in our elementary school.
People say, “Ten years make a short age.”  
To be honest, I felt a little bit worry to restart PTA activities,
because the advent of new technology might make me a deadwood.

I’d like to report that CICC Joint Seminar titled “IT Utilization to Strengthen Economic and Social Infrastructure” in cooperation with Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Cambodia (MPTC) has successfully done at Phnom Penh on 1st February, 2017.

Typical topics of internet in Japan this year are Pico Taro and Pokemon GO.
Pico Taro’s unique song “PPAP” attracted foreign media first.
Pico Taro is a talent of Avex Group Holdings who has punch permanent hair style and leopard pattern costume with very impact.

[Topic ] Can Asian countries take initiatives for innovative technology?

Dear Gentle persons

I am Kazuki Yasui, taking care of Research & Information Division.
Most of Japanese are fed up with typhoons which have come near to us more than 10 times in this summer. Because of global warming, Japanese islands have become good sandbags for typhoons. And, luckily, we didn’t experience so much hot weather comparing with usual year.

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