Greeting message from the Director

My name is Yoshihide Sekimoto, and in fiscal year 2024 I became the sixth director of the Center for Spatial Information Science at the University of Tokyo.

The Center for Spatial Information Science was originally conceived as a national museum of cartography. It was established in 1998 as the so-called “new cartography” was evolving into new disciplines with higher and broader perspectives: first “geographic information science” and later “spatial information science,” which is the focus of the Center. After that, the goal was to become a research base for spatial information science, not only within the University of Tokyo, but also nationwide. In 2005, the Center was accredited by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) as a national Joint Usage Facility, and today we continue to support researchers nationwide as a designated Joint Usage/Research Center.

Nearly 25 years have now passed since the Center’s establishment, and in that time the scope of spatial information science has greatly expanded and become deeply rooted in daily life. Viewing digital maps on a smartphone has become commonplace, and in the wake of COVID-19, it has even become commonplace to talk about crowd congestion in a city using data on the movement patterns of people. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) technology makes it possible not only to automatically detect damage to roads while driving, but also to create high-definition images that look like real landscapes using generative AI. Furthermore, autonomous driving technology that measures the surrounding spatial information will soon be deployed on actual roads.

At the same time, however, we are faced with an increasing number of complex social issues such as the aging of society, a declining population, the frequent occurrence of large-scale disasters, and, at the global level, security issues such as social division and regional conflicts. We therefore need to actively consider how spatial information science can contribute to solving these problems from the perspective of autonomy and sustainability.

In this sense, now that the use of spatial information is commonplace for researchers in many fields, it can be said that the first stage of our mission has been accomplished. I believe we are now entering a new stage in which we must further expand our conceptual horizon and seriously discuss how to build and lead a sustainable digital spatial society. In fact, at the University of Tokyo, the Center played a central role in establishing the Digital Spatial Society Collaborative Research Organization in 2020, and as of April 2024, nearly 80 faculty members from 18 departments are engaged in collaborative activities and discussions.

While we have a strong desire to continue in this direction, the Center is still small in size, and cooperation from all our stakeholders in Japan and abroad will be essential to maintain and operate the Center, accelerate collaboration, and keep it constantly up-to-date. Thank you for your continued support.

Apr. 1st 2024
Center for Spatial Information Science, The University of Tokyo

Yoshihide Sekimoto