MATSUE – A forum was held on August 10th to showcase how Matsue City and Shimane Prefecture have been using Ruby, a popular programming language, to revitalize their region and foster IT innovation, held at Enun Community Space in Cha-machi.
The speakers at the forum were current and former officials from Matsue City Hall and the Shimane Prefectural Office. They shared their achievements and challenges in using the programming language to boost their economy and promote regional growth.
Ruby was created by Hiroyuki Matsumoto, a resident of Matsue, in 1995. It is widely used around the world for its simplicity and flexibility. “Ruby is a language that makes programmers happy,” hopes Matsumoto.
Matsue City has been implementing the Ruby City Matsue Project since 2007, a plan to develop IT talent, attract IT enterprises, and create employment opportunities in response to its considerable depopulation problem. The city established the Matsue Open-Source Labo near the railway station to foster the exchange of IT expertise.
Shimane Prefecture has also supported Matsue’s efforts by organizing the Ruby World Conference, a two-day event that attracts over a thousand engineers every year. The prefecture has also founded Open Source Software Society Shimane (OS4) and Shimane IT Open-Innovation Center (ITOC) to strengthen collaborations among the prefectural administration, local municipalities, and educational institutions.
As a result of these initiatives, Ruby has become synonymous with Matsue, making it the face of the city and increasing its number of IT companies and professionals. Encouraged by the measures, 40 companies moved to the city from outside, and the number of IT workers doubled in 15 years.
At the prefectural level, more than 50 IT companies entered from other prefectures. The sales figures of the IT industry in Shimane in 2019 reached 2.7 times those of 2004, and the number of employees increased 1.7 times in the same period.
The programming language has also spread in the education sector, and Ruby programming education is provided to students of all levels. Matsue City has been offering Ruby experiences to elementary and junior high school students ahead of the nationwide GIGA School Scheme that aims to let students all over the country have a tablet PC to lift Japan’s IT levels.
Shimane University and Matsue Technical College offer a programming course in Ruby, which helps them train many IT engineers and programmers for the local area.
Kenji Sugihara, a former prefectural official who transitioned into entrepreneurship, underscored the pivotal role of continuity in the project’s success. Tokokazu Honda from Matsue City Hall emphasized the significance of networking events in establishing robust human connections through drinking parties.
In acknowledgement of these noteworthy accomplishments, Matsue City Mayor Akihito Uesada is poised to unveil the city’s new strategy—Ruby City MATSUE2.0—on August 18th. This strategic move underscores the city’s steadfast commitment to harnessing Ruby and IT technology as vehicles for its ongoing development and expansion.