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In the information age, data is gold. A precious commodity, in responsible hands data can be a force for the common good. As one of Japan’s largest providers of insurance and nursing care, SOMPO has amassed a treasure trove of data on human health, safety, and security. Ensuring wellbeing, however, requires more than statistics. On its own, data is just a jumping-off point. Interpreting and making the most of that information requires new and advanced technologies.

SOMPO is embracing those technologies. With its digital labs in Tokyo, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, and through partnerships with cutting-edge global tech firms, SOMPO is evolving into a new kind of company. “This moment is the beginning of our transformation, “ says Kengo Sakurada, Group CEO of SOMPO Holdings. “Going forward, we will be defined not as an insurer, but as a firm that offers security, health and wellbeing.”

To transform that definition into reality, SOMPO and its partners are building a Real Data Platform. Its foundation is the wealth of detailed, proprietary information SOMPO has collected on accidents, weather and natural disasters, human health and various other fields. With its Real Data Platform, the company is collaborating with top-echelon tech firms such as leading software provider Palantir Technologies, the start-up One Concern, and Tier IV. Together they apply artificial intelligence, state-of-the art modeling, and knowledge management to synthesize the raw information in creative and innovative ways.

The result is that SOMPO’s Real Data Platform is predictive, not reactive. It can be used to forecast in detail what type of damage a disaster would cause in a certain location at a certain time, or what illness a patient is bound to experience soon. That creates opportunity, allowing time for preparation or prevention. “We can see what will happen in the future, and we can use that knowledge to solve social problems,” Sakurada says. While data is a prized asset, privacy and security are also central to the Real Data Platform technology and philosophy.

Societies face some of their most critical tests during natural disasters. When calamities strike, people ask what, if anything, could have been done beforehand? In this era of climate change, the question has a new urgency: natural disasters are occurring with greater frequency and deadlier force. How can societies cope? Preparation is crucial. To improve regional disaster preparedness, SOMPO has formed a strategic partnership with One Concern, a Silicon Valley start-up engaged in AI-enabled resilience solutions and disaster-risk mitigation technologies.

Together, they have developed a new AI-driven system combining One Concern’s seismic and flood technology with SOMPO’s Knowledge. The system enables emergency management officials to identify the businesses and communities exposed to extreme flooding and powerful earthquakes. The advanced modeling it produces can reveal the potential impacts on a local community and support the creation of contingency plans and disaster response. It has been tested in Kumamoto City since 2019, and the partnership is aiming to expand the project to more cities in Japan and will offer it as a resilience solution to Japan’s private sector.

“Better incorporating climate analytics will create a more accurate picture of how the world will look in the future, ensuring we can respond more quickly and recover more effectively if something terrible does happen,” said Ahmad Wani, CEO and co-founder of One Concern. “One Concern and SOMPO are paving the way for Japan and the entire world to see that resilience is an urgent ‘must have’ — now more than ever.”

The market for this groundbreaking technology extends well beyond Japan. Nations in Asia and the Pacific Rim, bounded by the “Ring of Fire,” experience more natural disasters than any other region. However, with the climate becoming increasingly unstable, every region is now at greater risk. AI-enabled software with the ability to forecast the impact of a disaster would be an invaluable tool.

SOMPO and One Concern are working together to develop and apply new methods of probabilistic modeling to prevent catastrophic failures before they occur, not just compensating for damage afterwards. The fruits of their collaboration are expected to provide new value for clients while also contributing to the broader social need for disaster mitigation solutions.

The partners believe their work is advancing to a point where they will be able to detect unknown risks from climate change and natural disasters, allowing customers a chance to mitigate or avoid those risks. That would be a transformational technological development.

Japan is already in the midst of a transformation: it is an aging society. SOMPO’s Real Data Platform is proving to be an essential component in addressing the challenges posed by a population with growing numbers of the elderly. In late 2015, SOMPO entered the nursing and preventive healthcare sector, founding SOMPO Care, acquiring nursing homes and delivering at-home service for the diverse needs of seniors and their families.

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Since its establishment, SOMPO Care has collected real data on the health of over 80,000 residents in its centers and facilities. This data is secure within the Real Data Platform. However, medical information is voluminous, complex and disparate. It is often stored in different locations or systems: silos that can obscure a comprehensive picture of patient health and levels and quality of care. This leads to inefficiencies that can negatively affect patients and drive up costs.

But in 2018, Sakurada found a firm that could help SOMPO to solve those problems. He discovered Palantir, a leading U.S. software provider founded by Peter Thiel. “When I ran across Palantir, I thought: this is it!” Sakurada says. “SOMPO could deliver societal transformation through real data analysis and insights.” SOMPO had the data. Palantir could provide the insights. Together, they founded Palantir Technologies Japan.

“We started with SOMPO Care, our nursing care business and used Palantir Foundry to organize and analyze real data to increase business efficiency and quality of care,” Sakurada says. Foundry is Palantir’s advanced enterprise data management platform. It connects SOMPO’s real data and then provides structure and analysis. That creates tremendous value.

“By consuming big data and analyzing it, we will be able to see the patterns so that we can prevent illness. We can create ‘visible and predictive nursing care’ in Japan. And we can export this solution for the world,” Sakurada says. “We expect that in 2022, our Real Data Platform initiatives with Palantir will deliver major milestones.”

The elderly will also benefit from SOMPO’s partnership in another field: mobility. Since 2017, the company has been working with Tier IV, a deep-tech start-up in Japan that specializes in developing safe, intelligent, self-driving vehicles. SOMPO is using its proprietary data on accidents to accelerate the autonomous driving industry and make it safer. “SOMPO will transform itself from being a company that insures against accidents, to a company that prevents accidents,” Sakurada says.

By combining its Real Data Platform with Tier IV’s autonomous driving operating system, automobiles using the Tier IV system will be able to make sharper and safer driving decisions because they are working from a base of deeper and more detailed information.

And an additional benefit of safe and reliable autonomous vehicles is that they can extend the driving years of the elderly. Despite slower reflexes, declining vision or more frequent “senior moments,” senior citizens will still be able to take to the open road without posing an undue risk to other drivers or themselves.

Maintaining that level of independence will be a boon to the elderly. Instead of being dependent on others to get around, they will have the freedom of mobility. And that will help maintain their optimism and zest for life, which contribute to good health and a longer life.

Part of life is celebrating the changing seasons. During this recent holiday season, Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies and Kengo Sakurada, Group CEO of SOMPO Holdings each spoke about the Real Data Platform – its values and ambitions – in a video message they produced together. Please take a look. It provides proof of their strong corporate partnership and the bonds they are building with our changing societies.

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