MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the Philippine government has expressed its commitment to finish its six smart city projects during the 4th Asean Smart Cities Network (ASCN) Annual Meeting held virtually on Monday.
In a news release on Wednesday, DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Marlo Iringan, who represented DILG Secretary Eduardo Año to the meeting, said while the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis stalled the implementation of smart city projects, the Philippines -- through its participating local government units (LGUs) -- remains committed to pursuing its smart city initiatives.
“Meeting challenges in the implementation of our smart city projects was inevitable primarily because of the Covid-19 crisis as local government resources were poured into pandemic response and imposition of health protocols,” he said.
“Despite these obstacles, we will fulfill our commitment to complete the smart city projects as they will improve the delivery of government services and make things more convenient for the public,” he added.
The smart city projects which were showcased by the DILG during the ASCN meeting are the Command Center Upgrade and E-government Services in the City of Manila; Bus Rapid Transit System and Digital Traffic System in Cebu City; and Converged Command and Control Center and Intelligent Transportation and Traffic Systems with Security in Davao City.
Established in 2018 during the 32nd Asean Summit, the ASCN is a collaborative platform where cities from the 10 Asean member states work towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development. It aims to facilitate cooperation on smart cities development, catalyze bankable projects with the private sector, and secure funding and support from Asean’s external partners.
The 26 ASCN Pilot Cities are: Bandar Seri Begawan, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Makassar, Banyuwangi, DKI Jakarta, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Yangon, Cebu City, Davao City, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok, Chonburi, Phuket, Da Nang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. Brunei Darussalam holds the ASCN chairmanship this year, as it follows the Asean chairmanship.
During the meeting, Iringan also said that the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic underscored the need for local economies to shift to information and communication technology-based solutions to minimize health risks and to increase coping capacities.
“Maintaining the symbiotic relationship between the network and its member countries and smart cities will help them ride out the pandemic and catalyze economic recovery,” he said.
According to Iringan, smart cities have realized that forging partnerships are necessary to overcome the challenges and to move forward.
“The Philippine Government expresses its appreciation for the opportunities for partnerships extended through this platform. However, we would like to seek the ASCN’s support for the completion of the smart city projects needing digital infrastructure and applications support,” he said.
He said the configuration of these projects is focused on the need for an efficient emergency and crisis response center that provides real-time information for the safety, protection of constituencies, and increased resilience considering the country’s location in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
According to Iringan, the improvement of the traffic management and transportation systems as well as the provision of e-services in government transactions are being pushed to lessen travel trips and provide for efficient mass transportation systems to address the longstanding problem of mobility and traffic congestion in urban cities.
Manila, Cebu, Davao smart city projects
In his country report, Iringan presented the command center upgrades at the Manila City Hall which mainly acts as a contact center and dispatch center for emergency services. Said command center showcased 28 display panels and over 100 high-end cameras strategically placed throughout the city that allows recognition of facial features and license plates.
On the other hand, Manila’s e-Government Services through the Go! Manila web and mobile applications addressed the need for online processing and payment of government services during the pandemic. The mobile application also addressed problems on long queues, time-consuming processes, fixers, and the need for physical presence in the City Hall.
Currently, the features of the app include the City of Manila’s Real Property and Business Tax payments; a wide range of facilities for payment of bills for government and private entities; securing of other government permits and documents such as residence certificate, birth and death certificates, occupancy permit and heath certificate; payment of utilities, money transfer transactions, among others.
Meanwhile, Cebu City’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line Plan aims to improve the overall performance of the urban passenger transport system for a more efficient intra-city mass transportation. As for the city’s Digital Traffic System project, Iringan reported that 18 of the 85 road intersections in the city have already been installed with sensors and high-resolution surveillance cameras for vehicle detection, license plate recognition, and speed dome for general surveillance.
Davao City’s Converged Command Center, on the other hand, is now in the second phase of its five-phase implementation scheme with digital infrastructure, underground cables, aerial installation of fiber optic cables, and additional closed-circuit televisions or CCTVs for surveillance currently being installed. Its complementary project dubbed as High Priority Bus System (HPBS) is now 70 percent complete while the design of depots and terminals for electric bus (eBus) is 30 percent in progress. (PR)