TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taipei City Government is innovating to create a livable and sustainable smart city, seeking “smart” solutions to improve quality of life issues through public-private collaborations and optimizing transport, education, and contactless services.
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has encouraged the public sector to provide solutions to the practical needs of citizens and make the city “smart.” To achieve this goal, civil servants should be more resilient when it comes to the fear of failure and propose creative and innovative solutions.
Taipei has been successful in its efforts to upgrade the city’s smart infrastructure over recent years. In the 2019 Eden Strategy Institute ranking of the world's top 50 smart cities, Taipei surpassed Seattle, Vancouver, and Tokyo, ranking at 16th place.
A year later, it was ranked eighth in the world and second in Asia by the 2020 IMD-SUTD Smart City Index (SCI).
To facilitate the city’s smart policies, the Taipei Smart City Project Office (TPMO) was established in 2016. Through a two-way brainstorming process between the public and private sectors, the city government has designated Taipei as a “lab” where ideas can prosper into pilot projects (Proof of Concept, PoC) and later be implemented as policies.
“The so-called ‘smart’ idea is to solve the problems of citizens,” Ko said. "We use AI technology to detect traffic-clogged roads, and the traffic lights would be optimized accordingly to reduce the average vehicle waiting time and congestion, providing the public with a better commuting experience."
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je looks at a traffic map. (Taiwan News, Chang Ya-chun photo)
The city’s digital infrastructure was set up in advance and shone throughout the epidemic. The TaipeiPass app integrates 80% of municipal services, including utility bill payments, premium discounts, vaccination appointments, and healthcare passes.
It also provides real-name registration, which considerably improves the efficiency of pandemic prevention measures. This one-stop mobile portal received a medal from the 2021 IDC Smart Asia Pacific Award in the civic engagement category.
Meanwhile, Taipei’s Technology-Assisted Pandemic Prevention Project won an award in the public health and social services category as well.
The award-winning TaipeiPass. (Department of Information Technology of Taipei City Government photo)
In terms of education, the e-learning platform Taipei CooC-Cloud, which launched in 2016, has comprehensively supported public distance education during the semi-lockdown. With over 100,000 lecture videos and an assessment system, it enables students nationwide to continue their studies remotely.
In addition, more than 3,600 students from 1,054 schools abroad can acquire learning resources through the platform as well. “This is city infrastructure that transcends the limits of time and space and reaches all Chinese speakers and learners,” Ko said.
The mayor added that policies should improve citizens’ lives. For example, the city government-implemented “UberEats” at Taipei First Girls High School saves students from lining up for lunch.
Additionally, there is an iTrash project in Neihu District, allowing citizens to dispose of trash and recycle at their convenience, anytime, day or night.
Testing these ideas keeps the authorities up to speed with people’s needs and helps put good policies into action. “Taipei’s smart changes are hidden in the details,” Ko said.
A man recycles a plastic bottle in iTrash. (Facebook, iTrash photo)
Over the past six years, Taipei has built a “smart government” to drive development in seven areas: building, transportation, education, health, environment, security, and economy.
Under this framework, over 250 public-private-partnership PoC projects have been implemented to create a more livable and sustainable environment for its citizens.
“We can't change the whole city by a single event, so we're starting with transportation and education, accumulating these changes into a sweeping transformation,” Ko said.
As the world enters the post-pandemic era, Taiwan is also moving toward a “new normal” lifestyle with “pandemic control, relief packages, and transformation,” Ko said. He added that transformation and digital infrastructure construction are priorities.
The city government published a “White Paper on Digital Transformation” in March to further promote smart services. In response, Ko noted the importance of digital governance and digital administration, such as digital in-person counter services, pay.taipei, and Taipei Urban Intelligence Center.
Taipei has led the nation in smart city development and received international recognition for its smart infrastructure, which is due to Ko's philosophy of "encouraging innovation and tolerating failure" in governance.
Ko emphasized that civil servants in Taipei City will continue serving citizens by being bold and ambitious in order to roll out creative and innovative solutions for a livable and sustainable city.
Taipei City Government encourages an open work environment. (Taiwan News, Chang Ya-chun photo)