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what one nation can be taught by the other

Following my recent visit to the Global Entrepreneurship Conference (GEC) + Taipei 2018 themed “Enabling Social Impact with Artificial Intelligence & Internet of Things” I was ecstatic to learn about the latest developments in policies that can be used to build smart cities. In this sense, “cities can be viewed as smaller groups of individuals in a nation that reside as a unit of one an area that is distinct and accessing or sharing the same services offered by one government entity.

One of the highlights of the GEC was a panel discussion the topic of “Entrepreneurship Nurturing: Interaction between Thriving Cities and Startup Growth”. The panel discussion was extremely relevant since the Taipei city administration had set up the Taipei Smart City Project Management Office (TPMO) on the 1st of the year 2016 to provide innovative solutions and to become an intermediary infrastructure for private-public partnerships. The aim is to turn the entire city into a living laboratory and incorporate the spirit of Taipei into its DNA (more information can be found in the Smart City Taipei website).

Reflections from Global Entrepreneurship Conference + Taipei 2018

In adopting a holistic strategy to becoming an “smart city”, Taiwan utilizes innovative initiatives that do don’t just connect various government departments but also across cities. Second, Taiwan opens up channels for communication, allowing residents to directly communicate with the authorities. In addition, it invests in technological innovation by promoting innovative solutions with effective proof of concept (POC) designs.

As of now, Taipei has over a hundred POC projects that have been started as well as hundreds of ICT suppliers are working on these models. These collaborative efforts were inspired in part by “Digital Minister” Audrey Tang, who was appointed as a government official in the year 2016 and was able to collaborate with implementers and policymakers in creating tech-driven solutions that help bridge the gap between generations. Through adopting this pioneering “open governance” approach that is open to innovation, new solutions to the urban complexities are more likely to emerge.

Inter-city Insights: Technology and Cities in Philippines and Taiwan

My country, which is in the Philippines, has been taking specific initiatives to develop new solutions for cities over the last seven years. In 2012 in 2012, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) in collaboration along with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Cyber City Teleservices Philippines Inc. (CCTP) created the Awards for Excellence in Governance via the use of ICT by Local Government Units (eGov Awards). These eGov Awards recognize local government units (LGUs), which include municipalities, provinces, and cities, for their top strategies in using ICT to efficiently and effectively provide their public services to their constituents as well as other stakeholders. It is designed to enhance business development as well as social services, and the overall ecosystem of LGUs. It also aims to inspire the private and commercial sectors to invest and/or participate in the development of the LGUs. This year it was the first time that eGov Awards was adopted by the Digital Cities PH framework of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) within the digital Governance component.

In a bid to adapt the Taipei model, I have realized that there are valuable suggestions for the Philippines experience of making use of ICT in local government:

A concept that is constrained to the resources accessible and without proper needs assessment and engagement with users is likely to stifle innovation. The aim is to bring about positive changes for the city’s residents by first identifying the problem and then conceiving solutions. For example, I was thrilled to discover an example of a POC with the name Taipei Main Station app that aims to assist Taipei city dwellers in navigating Taipei Main Station, the underground, which is known as “the biggest maze in Taiwan” as well as an “urban labyrinth” where even residents of the city would be lost a lot of the time. Recognizing an urgent need for a well-organized map-based navigation for this station, it offers immediate information to the public, not just about train schedules and routes, but additionally, the best places to shop, eat and get immediate access to services. The app comes with indoor navigation, barrier-free that includes maps, locations and directions. It even points to our closest ticket counters, ATM restrooms, as well as other important points of interest as well as facilities. The technology is designed to be easy-to-use flexible, accessible and responsive.

Engaging citizens in the governance process can be a significant step in finding solutions to problems. Taipei’s systems allow city residents to suggest solutions to the problems they face, which will lead to the experimentation with prototyping, institutionalizing and implementing solutions that have proven to be successful. Cities should be willing to hear suggestions from their citizens just as or even more than other vendors as feedback from users directly addresses the major issues which allows solutions to develop and improve their effectiveness. By focusing on technologies, they can be viewed as an investment that could eventually produce social returns rather than just a cost to be incurred.


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Jane S. King

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