National

Kyoto Wi-Fi signal sensors to monitor and assist in managing tourist crowds

Kyodo

Kyoto on Saturday will unveil a trial system that monitors, predicts and manages the flow of visitors to high-demand tourist spots, with the popular fall foliage viewing area in Arashiyama as the system’s initial focus.

In a first for Japan, congestion projections in eight areas of Arashiyama will be regularly updated online based on data collected by sensors that track active Wi-Fi signals.

Running through Dec. 17, the test will monitor areas including the picturesque Togetsukyo Bridge and the area’s famous bamboo groves.

Since mid-September, sensors set up in 13 locations have tracked smartphone Wi-Fi signals and collected data on the number of visitors and how long they remain at the monitored spots.

Hourly crowd forecasts and peak congestion times, as well as travel routes, will be offered online in Japanese and English at the arashiyama.fun website, advising travelers on the best available itineraries when they select the area and general time of their visit.

The trial will be conducted by the tourism ministry, the city of Kyoto and the city’s tourism association.

A Kyoto city official expressed hope that the trial will “lead to comfortable visits,” noting that the city may consider introducing the system at other sightseeing spots if it proves effective.