Code for Sapporo

Code for Sapporo(パパママまっぷチーム)


Interactive Preschool Map Based on Sapporo City’s Public Data

Code for Sapporo

“Sapporo might become a comfortable place to raise children
if a map like this existed, I thought.”

—Mayumi Kubo

Dads and moms can be at a loss when they begin searching for a place to entrust their children. To help these parents in their quest, Code for Sapporo developed an interactive map of the city’s preschools and day-care centers, which went live in fall 2014. Code for Sapporo is a local nonprofit organization that aspires to develop technology-based solutions to regional issues. Project leader Mayumi Kubo, who is herself the mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, told us how the map came about.

Quick Search of Preschools by Operating Hours, Vacancies

The Sapporo Preschool Map is a digital map covering every day-care center—both licensed and unlicensed—and preschool located in the city of Sapporo. It not only indicates the facilities’ locations but allows users to search by operating hours, eligible ages, vacancies, whether or not extended day care is offered, and other parameters. The service helps parents to compare and weigh their options based on various criteria.

Depending on whether they are public or private, day care or preschool, and so forth, childcare facilities in Sapporo may be supervised by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, the Hokkaido government, or Sapporo city. Because of these different jurisdictions, a consolidated map of local preschools and day-care centers did not exist. The Sapporo Preschool Map brings together the data published by different authorities and integrates them into a seamless, user-friendly map service.


Map Inspired by Own Difficulty Searching for Preschools

Asked what prompted the maps’ creation, Mayumi Kubo replied, “Because I wanted to use it.” Eight months after giving birth to her son, Kubo hit a wall in her hunt for day care as she prepared to go back to work. She started out by searching the list of day-care services published by the city of Sapporo, which she found to be frustrating because it was not immediately obvious where each facility was in relation to her home or office. After all the hassle, moreover, she could not find any openings at publicly licensed day-care centers and was wait-listed for a time.

“When I took a fresh look at the list, I noticed that there were other facilities that might be able to take my son in,” Kubo explains. “Parenting takes up a lot of attention, and you can’t sit down at the computer for long periods. I could have researched the facilities much more quickly if they had all been on a map.”

Having handled map data as part of her job, Kubo set out to make a map with her own hands. “About 760 children [as of October 2014] are waiting to get into day care in Sapporo. Even now, that many people are going through what I experienced, and I wanted to help in what way I could.”


Improving Sapporo Life with Technology

To develop the map, Kubo enlised the help of Takahisa Kawando and Yusuke Suzuki. Both are core members of Code for Sapporo, a nonprofit organization with the mission of making Sapporo a little better through (computer) code. Kubo put together a sample, conferring with the city’s Bureau for the Future of Children regarding the handling of data, and Kawando and Suzuki created the system. Most of the discussions between them took place on social networks, as they all had jobs.

After a month of working nightly on the project, the map was ready for release. Since then, the team has continued to tinker with the website to improve its usability, such as by adding a search function. Through Code for Japan, the organization that oversees regional chapters across Japan, the initiative has found support in other cities as well: Tsukuba (Ibaraki Prefecture), Kanazawa ward in Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and Urazoe (Okinawa Prefecture)—where the map is still under development.


Helping to Ease the Challenges of Parenting

Creating the Sapporo Preschool Map gave her a renewed appreciation of presechools and day-care centers, Kubo says. “With the rising rate of double-income nuclear families, the environment for raising children in the cities is becoming more challenging. For nuclear families like us, who can’t always ask for advice from the grandparents, it’s reassuring to have a place like day care, where we can seek parenting advice. I’ve heard that many full-time moms get burnt out from giving children their undivided attention day and night, without a shoulder to cry on. The preschool map lets parents know that there are places that can take temporary care of their children, and I think the knowledge will give them peace of mind.”

Code for Sapporo values the citizen’s perspective. Using technology to help local people with challenges in everyday life—perhaps that is the meaning behind its mission of making the city “a little better.”

Mayumi Kubo

Planner, Code for Sapporo

Born in Tokyo in 1976. Moved to Sapporo 10 years ago and gave birth to her son in August 2012. Resolved to create a map of local preschools and day-care centers due to the difficulty she experienced in making day-care arrangements for her son prior to returning to work. Began developing the Sapporo Preschool Map in September 2014 with Takahisa Kawando and Yusuke Suzuki, whom she met at an event, and released the website the following month on October 23. Currently engages in Code of Sapporo’s activities while working at a research institute on civil engineering in Sapporo. A lover of French cuisine, held her first meeting with Kawando at Sapporo Autumn Fest.



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