Bringing Japanese technological prowess and exquisite detail to the world. Original coronavirus countermeasure “Fight Back COVID-19” announced.
Small Worlds Tokyo(Koto-ku,Tokyo), the world's largest indoor miniature theme park, opened in Tokyo’s Ariake district in June 2020. The facility, which was established as a “prototype to showcase Japanese technology,” is now presenting itself to the world as an “indoor facility prototype” in terms of the measures it is taking to combat coronavirus.
Days to think about original coronavirus countermeasures
The theme park was initially scheduled to open in April 2020 but this was put on hold due to the outbreak of coronavirus. During Japan’s state of emergency, park employees communicated with each other remotely, exchanging ideas on how best to open the park quickly while creating a facility in which visitors would feel safe. The postponement of the opening was unfortunate. However, to open to the public safely, the park needed to be able to put visitors at ease while, as an exhibition facility, focusing on details such as ensuring social distancing. For this, coronavirus countermeasures were drawn up.
Coronavirus countermeasures accomplished through confidence and experience with state-of-the-art technologies.
Small Worlds Tokyo has utilized its technological know-how to portray the real world as an elaborate 1:80 scale virtual world, creating a whole new world. The facility was confident that it could apply its experience and technical capabilities to the unprecedented task of combatting coronavirus. In fact, it didn't take the theme park long to devise its own coronavirus infection control measures. On May 14, even before the government’s state of emergency was declared, Small Worlds Tokyo’s very own coronavirus countermeasure, “Fight Back COVID-19,” was announced.
Initiatives such as admission restrictions, social distancing, and ventilation applied through innovative use of technology.
“Fight Back COVID-19” was devised from six perspectives: crowding, closed spaces, close contact, keeping the virus out, not being infected, and not infecting.
Firstly, all visitors undergo a thermography body temperature reading when entering the facility, and visitor contact details are retained for 14 days, just in case. In addition, the number of visitors is limited, and, for the time being, visitors can stay no longer than two hours.
To enable people to keep a sufficient distance between each other after entering the facility, the floor is illuminated with LED lighting that allows visitors to visualize a distance of two meters. The layout of the exhibition has been configured so that visitors do not have to face each other directly.
In addition, atomizers that suppress viruses and bacteria have been installed at key points in the building and are activated after closing time and operate until the next opening day. As well as the installation of a powerful ventilation system, comprehensive measures have been put in place, such as creating air passages in the exhibition space.
Providing greater reassurance leads to a boom in visitor numbers after opening.
In addition, alcohol sanitizers, paper disinfectants, gloves, and trash cans have been installed in each area and various measures have been taken and thoroughly implemented. These include a facility admission guidance video and a video reminder of visitor etiquette through the use of signage and news videos. As a result, various media outlets have promoted the theme park as a safe place to visit. Since the day it opened, many people have felt safe to visit and the theme park has become a popular destination.
“The number of visitors is about one-tenth of our pre-coronavirus target,” says Mr. Yamada, executive director of the entertainment department of SMALL WORLDS Co., Ltd., which operates the theme park. “We were able to implement all the virus countermeasures we could think of,” he says, adding that he can feel the effects.
Technology used in other industries applied to coronavirus countermeasures.
One major reason Small Worlds Tokyo's coronavirus countermeasures have been a success is that there was no resistance to adopting the latest technologies. For example, the suspicious behavior detection system is a security system that can determine a person’s mental state by measuring, for example, excessive tension. It is usually used at airports and in large buildings as a crime prevention monitoring system. Furthermore, the theme park is constructing a unique set of coronavirus countermeasures that boldly apply the latest technologies, such as body temperature screening using thermography cameras and employing LED lighting to indicate the distance between visitors, and is adopting them throughout the facility.
Willingness to accept challenges without fear of failure is most important.
“Initiatives to combat coronavirus were new to everyone, so working by trial and error was to be expected. Still, because we have the technical skills we embraced a positive attitude, encouraging ourselves to take on this new challenge without fear of failure,” says Mr. Yamada. The theme park is expected to attract not only visitors from Japan but tourists from overseas as well. In addition to continuing with measures to prevent the spread of the virus, the facility plans to apply the lessons learned so far to bring about the “next change” and create an environment that can be enjoyed with peace of mind.