UIJ Project Topic: Fire Safety Management

Each year, Urban Innovation Japan holds a bi-annual contest to encourage local innovators to take an active role in improving our city. Utilizing local insight and letting entrepreneurs take lead, UIJ allows Kobe to partner with anyone with a great idea, and then make that great idea into a reality.

Searching for an innovative means of reducing the risk of fire in Kobe, and making regulatory compliance much easier, the Fire Prevention System project was one of eight topics for the first half of the year’s competition. Below you can learn about the problem being addressed, the solution sought, and the positive effects that citizens will enjoy as these projects reach fruition.

Voluntary fire management made easier through automation - building safer cities starting with Kobe

In the interests of safety, owners and renters of buildings are required to carry out duties imposed by the Fire Service Act and Fire Prevention act. That includes:

  1. 1. Appointing a fire control manager
  2. 2. Submitting a firefighting plan
  3. 3. Managing maintenance of firefighting facilities

Apart from the citizen led effort to prevent fires, the Kobe City Fire Department provides guidance on the use and safety of over 44,000 fire equipment objects throughout the city.

Kobe City

The Issue(s) & Necessary Solution

Helping Prevent Fires in Kobe

But there is a problem. Many of these regulations are not generally known. Because Fire Service Laws are preventative measures, and only exist for the unlikely event of a fire, many people do not recognize the need to learn about or comply with them. Violations and inadequacies often go unrecognized until pointed out during on-site inspections by fire department staff. Among the 10,913 inspection targets last year, 4,105 defects were found.

The daily fire prevention performed by everyday citizens is important. But the fire department also plays a role. When legal violations are not resolved in spite of repeated administrative guidance, the fire department publicizes the information and notifies building users that the building is dangerous, in accordance with firefighting laws and ordinances.

Additionally, since 2013, the Kobe Fire Department has been operating an online publication of violations to provide building users with information if we discover serious fire law violations. If you violate action orders, you may be penalized. In the unlikely event that a fire occurs, you may be punishable in a trial if the building is not maintained as required by the Fire Service Law.

Kobe City: Information on Violations of the Fire Service Act

Critical Limitations of Fire Department Staff

It is not realistic for the experts trained in spotting violations to evaluate all 44,000 objects each year with regular on-site inspections. To better respond to serious violations, specialized fire brigade personnel would like to be able to easily and regularly issue documents required by law to fire control managers and building owners.

To help reduce the number of violations and increase public safety, we want businesses & organizations to have the capacity to submit the notifications required by local laws and ordinances without needing guidance from the fire department.

Seeking an Ideal Solution

The people of Kobe want a city with few fire violations before penalties are incurred. We expect to do that by:

  1. 1. Encouraging fire control management to submit the required documents at the necessary time
  2. 2. Lowering the hurdles for fire control managers by making it easier to submit various documents

We aim to create a voluntary fire prevention management support application, including e-learning functions, like animations illustrating proper fire extinguisher usage.

Once basic information is registered, it should also have functions which allow the fire department to provide notification of legal inspection times, notification of approaching deadlines to select fire control managers, and the submission of reports from fire control managers.

Fire department staff can recommend installation of the application at the time of notification acceptance or onsite inspections.

Proof-of-Concept for the Fire Prevention System

Voluntary fire prevention management systems can be strengthened with the use of applications capable of notifying the responsible parties about inspection times & other points of legal compliance. At a number of fire stations, related parties will install the app to assist normal operations. We will verify its effectiveness by evaluating inspection result report rates and questionnaires.

Future Implementation & Benefits

Eventually, every building may be capable of securing its own fire safety needs without instruction from the fire department. The results can be introduced to local governments, with the possibility of horizontal development nationwide.

In the future, this system may make it possible to connect with related organizations, making it possible to find specialists instantaneously when requesting equipment repairs and inspections.

Additional and Evolving Elements

There’s a tendency for false alarms of automatic fire alarm equipment to increase during rainy weather. Recent years have seen cases of concerned people who don’t know how to respond (how to turn off the alarm) calling 119. Allowing users to confirm response methods from within the app will reduce unnecessary emergency firefighting dispatch.

We are looking for partners who will work together with us on these measures. Let’s work together from Kobe City to reduce fire concerns throughout Japan!

Startup Requirements

Partners in this project must recognize the importance of fire prevention and work as a solution to social issues. They must be able to propose a system that is easy for building users to use. And must be able to meet at the fire department and propose solution & proof of concept

Available data/environment

Materials and data on various legal provisions, documents of the state of fire examinations nationwide (as a result of projects conducted in the past), etc.

Full Introduction Post-Program

Aim for full-scale development after the next fiscal year.


Due by July 15, 2019

Organizer: City of Kobe

Operator: Community Link, Kobe Shimbun