Governors, experts gather in Taipei to talk about how to build a Smart City

Six city leaders and experts gathered together Thursday to talk about current urban problems and possible Smart City solutions  

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The talk at 2018 Smart City Summit & Expo "Towards Next Generation: Urban Challenges and Strategies" (By Taiwan News)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Six city governors and experts gathered together Thursday at Taipei’s Smart City Summit and Expo to talk about what problems their cities are facing and what Smart City approaches they are using to improve the quality of life of city dwellers.

In most urbanized cities or cities experiencing urbanization, the major challenges for local governments tend to be sharp population growth and its impacts on the infrastructure and environment. 

Lin Jou-min (林洲民), commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Urban Development, said the city government had been trying to tackle the lack of public housing, which currently stands at 0.8 percent of the total housing stock in Taipei and is way below the international standard of 5 percent.

According to Lin, the Smart City agenda is to create quality of space in the city and quality of life for citizens with the help of technology, such as digital housing management and Building Information Modeling (BIM). 

Emphasizing the “quality” and “Smart City approaches” as principles for the city government to carry out public housing projects, Lin said when launching open bids for public housing projects in the past two years, the Taipei City Government no longer went for the lowest bids, as what local government or public institutes used to do and which sometimes led to failures due to lack of funding. 

Instead, the Taipei City Government chose “the best bids”, making sure that industries or companies the city worked with had fulfilled all the qualifications needed to deliver quality public housing, continued Lin.

Lin added the city government was now working on 32 public housing projects around the city with a budget of nearly US$3 billion.

Lin Jou-min, commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Urban Development at the talk "Towards Next Generation: Urban Challenges and Strategies"

On the other hand, Anthony Burke, professor at the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building of University of Technology Sydney, said the Smart City practices should go beyond technology. 

Burke used the breach of Facebook users' privacy by Cambridge Analytica, which might have affected the result of the U.S. presidential election in 2016, as an example to show that a lot of people now have “the trust issue” with either technology companies or governments.

If governments wanted to continue using technology to solve urban problems or improve quality of urban life, they should consider staying connected with the public and building up a trust relationship with citizens before imposing technology solutions on them, added Burke.

Burke emphasized that the Smart City discussion or practices should not be centered around technology advancement nor economic results and that instead, human beings should be the priority. 

Anthony Burke, professor at University of Technology Sydney, at the talk "Towards Next Generation: Urban Challenges and Strategies"

Likewise, Suhono Harso Supangkat, president of Smart Indonesia Initiatives Association, added that governments should not only work with technology industries but also local communities in order to accomplish their Smart City strategies.

Finally, Kim Sei-yong, CEO of Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation in South Korea, said while city governments should have holistic Smart City strategies for urban development, such as integrating public facilities into public housing or building up a digitized community, citizens also should become tech-literate to make such strategies work.