Tech industry leaders back int’l partnerships to expand smart cities

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Industry leaders in information and communications technology (ICT) are pushing for international partnerships to further expand the establishment of smart cities worldwide.

The stakeholders said partnerships with ICT companies and governments across the world will promote investments that will improve internet connectivity and address the demands of attaining a smart city.

“Public-private partnerships are important in attaining the demands for a smart city,” Dr. Non Arkaraprasetkul, Senior Expert in Smart City Promotion of Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency, said in a press briefing on the sidelines of the 2024 Smart City Summit and Expo (SCSE) held on March 21 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.

A smart city is an urban area which utilizes a network of sensors and devices to gather data on various concerns such as traffic flow, waste management, energy use, among others, to improve its operations and ensure a good standard of living for its residents.

Among the benefits of a smart city are improved services like public transportation, waste collection, or public safety through smart solutions and the promotion of environment-friendly practices such as renewable energy sources or reduced reliance on cars.

Dr. Non disclosed that 60 mayors from Thailand were part of the delegation in the SCSE who were able to visit the exhibits featuring various solutions by Taiwanese enterprises utilizing AI and 5G technologies, particularly the modern buses.

“The mayors that I brought with me were all excited about everything that they saw. I think the opportunity to showcase some of the best technologies, best practices as well as the networks could lead to partnerships that will result in projects,” according to Non.

He hopes that through the SCSE, Taiwan will provide grants to ICT enterprises in Thailand as well as provide opportunities for more international visits by foreign enterprises to Thailand.

For his part, Intelligent Community Forum Executive Director Matt Owen stressed the importance of providing internet access and connectivity in rural areas.

“One of the unfortunate things about tech is how quickly it is changing and constantly evolving. There is potential for some people to be left behind. Initiatives that can focus on going to rural communities and making sure their connectivity because if they don’t have connectivity, they can’t use any smart devices. We need to make sure they have access to devices and the knowledge of how to use it,” Owen said.

For instance, he cited that internet access in rural areas is important to enable various applications such as sensors in fields to monitor water levels and crops that can be accessed by farmers through mobile devices.

Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City Computer Association President Lam Nguyen Hai Long said there is no uniform formula on setting up smart cities across various countries because of their differences in cultural contexts.

He urged enterprises that are interested in investing in smart cities to familiarize themselves with the culture and legal frameworks of each country worldwide.

“Everybody needs to get involved in city enterprises and understand the local area of your business operations,” Lam stated.

Ho Chi Minh City is focusing on digital transformation to develop itself into a smart urban area by 2030.

The southern Vietnamese city has earned high rankings in digital transformation in various aspects like digital institutions and infrastructure.

It has been implementing initiatives like smart traffic management through sensors and data analytics; smart parking; smart grid technologies for energy efficiency, and waste management.

The 2024 Smart City and Expo, held from March 19 to 22 in Taipei, presented Taiwan’s diverse range of smart city and net-zero city initiatives as it transforms into a tech island. (PNA)