Government needs to address gap in smart city development

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government needs to provide support in terms of policies and standards to address challenges in building smart cities in the country, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.

In a report, the state think tank’s said developing smart cities is seen to offer a potential solution to urbanization issues being faced by the country, which include slow business transactions, costly telecommunication services, unreliable and expensive access to electricity and water, traffic, and weak innovation.

While the country has already started building smart cities and some cities have already exhibited readiness, PIDS said there is a need to address gaps in the smart city agenda.

“The national government can help address the gaps by providing additional support in developing policies and standards to improve data flow, promoting technology and innovation-powered cities, and ensuring transparency and accountability in implementing smart city initiatives,” it said.

Among the recommendations in the PIDS study is for the country to consider branding its cities as “smart,” which would involves clarifying the brand and outcomes from implementing smart city initiatives.

“Establishing a brand for technology and innovation-powered Philippine cities can unlock opportunities to gain additional investments for government projects,” PIDS said.

The study said there should be a plan on how outcomes would be attained, as well as the phases of smart city development with infrastructure as the first phase, followed by the data phase and the service phase.

“Veering away from this succession could eventually bring rise to challenges, such as failure to address constituents’ needs properly and losing out on opportunities to engage with stakeholders who require particular developments in preceding phases of smart city development,” it said.

PIDS also said local government units (LGUs) would need to build relationships with both the public and private sectors, including the academe, development organizations, businesses, other LGUs, the national government, and constituents as  partnerships are vital for smart city development.

Given the availability of technologies and data, the study also recommended increasing the capacity of people and institutions to monitor progress in government projects.

In addition, there should be risk mitigation strategies in the framework of smart cities.

In terms of financing, PIDS said public-private partnerships should be explored as another option for the development of smart cities.

“The national government must guide and support LGUs in addressing the challenges to smart city development to ensure that the potential of smart city initiatives will not be limited,” the study said.

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