Smart City appears to be a somewhat distant concept for the average citizen.
Having discussed the topic in different cities, I have no doubt that people should be brought on board as it is something that impacts the lives of all people.
Smart City is not a just technology project, it’s about major reform of urban living.
Take Tokyo as example. The greater Tokyo metropolitan area has about 38 million residents, making it the No. 1 in the world in city population rankings. It’s not an easy task to build a decision-making system for such a giant city. Any decision will affect huge numbers of people.
Conventionally, decision-makers gather all information, and then try to identify the problems and solutions.
This is probably an effective approach when there is a lack of data. But now, the situation is different, and we should ask ourselves if every one of us can also contribute and be part of the decision-making process.
In China, robust economic growth and rapid urbanization have created various challenges such as overcrowded cities, environmental pollution, traffic congestion, crimes, etc.
Take traffic congestion. Hangzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province used to be one of three Chinese cities with worst traffic jams.
Now the city is ranked as the 45th in terms of traffic jams in the nation, thanks to the adoption of big data technology.
The core objective of building a Smart City is to use big data technology to optimize the allocation of urban resources, and provide more convenience for local residents and better support for the business sector.
We are now standing at the inflection point of the big data era. Mobile internet has recorded our lives in the city with hordes of data. If these data could be integrated with civil service data, it might be the largest ever full-view database of cities in human history.
I believe that when digital decision-making and subsequent feedbacks become a close loop, it would mark the beginning of a digital era for city management.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 21
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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