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Cities, Take Note from Tokyo.

by Emily Washington on February 4, 2010

Japanese 7-11On Tuesday, 7-11 stores in Tokyo began offering various services that were previously only available through municipal governments, the Japan Times reports. Residents of the city and surrounding areas can now obtain residence certificates and registered seal certificates from the chain stores.

Customers will be able to insert their resident registry network cards into a new terminal for identification and get a printout of the document they need. The fee will be ¥200 to ¥250 for each copy.

Printouts are forgery-proof to make sure personal data are not falsified, Seven-Eleven said, adding the terminal network has advanced security features to protect personal information.

This new development appears as if it will benefit both the company by attracting more traffic into 7-11 stores and the municipality by reducing its paperwork and customer service burdens. Furthermore, customers will be better served by having convenient locations where they can get these documents.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., localities are cutting funding to schools, police, and transit. These are services that citizens value, pay taxes for, and expect through their contractual position as taxpayers.

Cutting positions such as teachers and police officers will immediately affect citizens. Contrarily, Tokyo’s innovation has allowed the city to permanently reduce its government service obligations with no loss to residents.

American cities should take note from innovative urban solutions around the world. In order to find lasting fiscal stability, cities should look for creative new ways to meet their citizens needs rather than seeking to maximize their revenues during times of prosperity and creating bloated budgets as a result.

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